Educational programs to transform young lives
In honor of International Youth Day (August 12th), URB.im is profiling a series of initiatives that work to transform the lives of youth through education, mentorship, and skills training. International Youth Day was established by the United Nations in 2000 as a means of raising awareness of issues affecting young people around the world. The following articles describe how a caring mentor, a specialized school, or a skills training program can empower youth to transform their lives.
Encouraging productive, empowered, and employed youth through alternative education
Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi, Lagos Community Manager
Education is crucial for a bright future, but Nigeria's 2012 unemployment rate was 23.9 percent. The nation's youth, both educated and uneducated, bears the brunt of this unemployment. The problem rises not only from lack of employment opportunities, but from lack of employable skills. Lagos has a large population but has managed to have the lowest level of unemployment amongst the nations' 36 states: 7.6 percent. The city has been able to attain this rate due to a number reasons: some might attribute it to the wealth of companies and industries, which is plausible. However, the contributions of the government and civil society organisations that encourage youth entrepreneurship, job placements, skills acquisition, and education schemes are an important piece of the puzzle.
The city of Lagos is filled with organisations and efforts by the state government to ensure youth education and skills acquisition. One such organisation, the Youth Empowerment and ICT Foundation, affords youths the opportunity to improve their skills and employment potential through education on information technology. The organisation focuses on improving socio-economic conditions of youth by encouraging them to embrace information and communication technology skills, as it is a growing and lucrative field in the country. Their programs allow youths to engage in educational conferences, seminars, and workshops for ICT. A notable program run by the foundation is the Urban Youth Empowerment Program, which targets unemployed youths (18 to 24 years old) who are considered high risk. The program is designed to supports participants through challenges and prepare them for productive careers. Elements of the program include counselling, community service requirements in various organisations, educational upgrades, occupational skills training, and employment placement schemes.
The Lagos state government makes continuous efforts to engage youth and works to create avenues employment. The Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Social Development partners with other ministries, like the Ministry of Agriculture, which creates agricultural schemes and education programs to encourage self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector. The Ministry also runs programs that centre on school-based initiatives that help young people discover and develop their innate skills for entrepreneurship.
While unemployment rates in the country are rising, programs such as these are fighting to keep the numbers low and to provide productive outlets for young people. Lagos has taken a step in the right direction, the hope is that they continue, ensuring that the programs are sustainable, effectively run, and that they integrate with city's youth.
Memandirikan anak jalanan
Widya Anggraini, Jakarta Community Manager
Street children are a common phenomenon in big cities: there are currently around 230,000 street children in Jakarta. In response to this problem, the government's Social Ministry has developed a program called the Child Social Welfare Program, which provides street children with shelter and different kinds of life skills to enable them to survive and leave street life. The private sector — through CSR initiatives — along with community programs run an initiative that trains street children with technical skills so that they can find employment to get themselves off the street.
Fenomena anak jalanan (Anjal) merupakan permasalahan sosial yang hadir terutama di kota-kota besar. Menurut data Kementerian Sosial RI (Kemensos) saat ini di Indonesia secara keseluruhan terdapat sekitar 4,5 juta anak terlantar. Untuk Jakarta sendiri anak terlantar mencapai lebih dari 230.000 anak. Mereka dengan mudah ditemui setiap traffic light, halte bis, pasar dan berbagai tempat-tempat umum lainnya. Umumnya mereka bekerja sebagai pengamen, penyemir sepatu, peminta-minta maupun penjual makanan kecil di jalanan dan bahkan beberapa dari mereka membentuk geng yang kerap membuat onar dan meresahkan masyarakat.
Menanggapi permasalahan anak, Kemensos membuat sebuah program bernama Program Kesejahteraan Sosial Anak (PKSA) sebagai wujud pemenuhan hak dan perlindungan terhadap anak. Dalam pelaksanaannya, program ini bekerja sama dengan Panti yang berfungsi sebagai shelter anak jalanan dan memfasiliatasi pemberdayaan mereka. Salah satu kegiatannya adalah pemberdayaan bagi Anjal yang memiliki ketertarikan terhadap seni. Beberapa grup band anak jalana diajak ke Studio rekaman 'Sebut Indonesia' dan melakukan rekaman bersama. Rencananya Kemensos juga akan memfasilitasi launching perdana hasil rekaman anak jalanan ini dan membuat video klip agar bisa didistribusikan ke masyarakat luas.
Kepedulian masyarakat juga tinggi tehadap keberadaan anjal terbukti dengan didirikannya rumah singgah oleh berbagai yayasan seperti Rumah Singgah Tjiliwoeng di Manggarai Utara yang didirikan oleh Yayasan Bhakti Nurul Iman yang memiliki hampir 200 anak jalanan binaan. Kebanyakan rumah singgah juga didukung oleh Kemensos dari segi pendanaan dan penyediaan tenaga ahli untuk beragam pelatihan teknis yang kerap diberikan oleh rumah singgah seperti yang diadakah oleh Rumah Singgah Anak Mandiri yang mengadakan pelatihan computer dan pengenalan internet kepada anak-anak binaannya. Rumah singgah memiliki manfaat yang besar kepada anak jalanan ini sebab sebagian besar mereka menghabiskan waktu dijalanan guna mencari uang dengan beragan tekanan fisik atau mental yang mereka terima dijalanan. Adanya rumah singgah membantu mereka mendapat pelayanan sosial seperti pendidikan non formal, kesehatan, pelatihan, santunan, kegiatan rekreasi dan ketrampilan.
Perhatian terhadap anak jalanan juga diberikan oleh pihak swasta yang kerap mengucurkan dana melalui CSR perusahaan, seperti yang dilakukan oleh Telkomsel yang memberikan pelatihan teknisi ponsel bagi anak anak binaan yang berasal dari Rumah Singgah Bina Anak Pertiwi di Jakarta Selatan dan Rumah Singgal Anak Kurnia di daerah Jakarta Timur. Kegiatan ini, menurut Telkomsel, dilaksanakan dalam rangka menumbuhkan kepercayaan diri bahwa mereka juga memiliki potensi untuk berkarya dan mandiri. Setelah pelatihan, peserta memiliki kesempatan untuk magang di sejumlah gerai Telkomsel Siaga untuk mempraktikkan keahlian baru mereka.
Secara keseluruhan, upaya mendidik dan memandirikan anak jalanan merupakan tanggung jawab bersama sebab permasalahan anjal muncul akibat gejolak ekonomi dan sosial di masyarakat dan berakibat terhadap anak. Oleh sebab itu, upaya mengatasi fenomena anjal melalui pemberian pendidikan formal maupun non-formal melalui berbagai pelatihan diharapkan akan mempersiapkan mereka dengan keahlian hidup dan mampu berusaha dengan mandiri dan keluar dari kehidupan jalanan.
Foto: Arifin Syaputra
Mentoring program guides Bangalore's most at-risk youth
Carlin Carr, Bangalore Community Manager
India's landmark Right to Education Act shows the country's increasing investment in, and emphasis on, free education for all. The goals are to improve the school system, quality of teaching and student attendance. At the primary school level, significant strides have been made in enrollment, particularly in urban areas. However, many at-risk youth forego secondary school, opting instead to work or attend night school. If they do continue their education, their job prospects rarely stretch beyond avenues they have seen their parents or local community members take: tailors, carpenters, drivers, maids or factory workers.
Mentor Together, a program launched in Bangalore in 2009, has set out to expand these options. By matching mentees with mentors, the organization helps young people understand where their potential is, how they should choose a career and how they could stand out. "Families and communities that do not have 'cultural capital' — years of schooling, access to resources and information networks — find it a challenge to nurture talent in their children," says Namrata Baruah, Progam Manager at Mentor Together Bangalore. "The mentor helps bridge ties here, providing mentees information and opportunities in areas of education and employment that wouldn't be found in the mentee's natural networks."
Mentors are recruited through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and are matched with mentees, youth from government-run or NGO homes or from disadvantaged areas in Bangalore. Criterion for matching involves many factors, including living within navigable distances given traffic issues in the city and knowing the same language. Many mentees come from villages and may not even know Hindi, the national language. Mentors go through a rigorous selection and training process that "orients them on the styles of mentoring, trust and relationship building techniques and the program rules." Mentor Together has additional resources for mentors to access, depending on the agreed upon goals of the pair. The focal points range from life skills to career and academic planning to community problem-solving.
Young people who enter the program, particularly those from orphanages or shelter homes, have an initial distrust of relationships with adults. These youth already struggle with feelings of abandonment and emotional distress, making them fearful of a program such as this. However, says Baruah, this reticence often quickly dissipates. The reason is due to "strong, emotionally close and authentic relationships" — the foundation of the program's success. Mentor Together found that once these bonds were formed, mentees began to see a marked change in their confidence and have been able to set out future plans with their mentors, balancing dreams with realistic goals.
The mentoring program shows that education is not the silver bullet in changing the lives of disadvantaged youth. Young people need to learn how to translate their education into a better future and to see opportunities beyond their own neighborhoods. They need role models who can encourage and excite them. And they need a map: doable steps that mentees can take toward realizing their goal, but only with little guidance in the right direction.
Photo: Mentor Together
Escolas do Amanhã: investindo na educação de qualidade nos bairros mais violentos do Rio
Catalina Gomez, Coordenadora da Rede em Rio de Janeiro
Embora Rio de Janeiro apresente boas taxas de cobertura de ensino básico, ainda existem importantes desafios na melhora da qualidade. Historicamente os bairros de baixa renda e aqueles afetados pela violência são aqueles que apresentam maiores taxas de evasão escolar e pior desempenho no Índice de Educação Básica (IDEB). Felizmente, esta situação está mudando principalmente com o apoio do programa Escolas do Amanhã (EA).
O programa foi criado em 2009 pela Secretaria Municipal de Educação com o objetivo de reduzir a evasão escolar nos bairros mais violentos da cidade. Atualmente opera em 155 escolas do Rio, tem mais de 6000 professores e beneficia mais de 105 mil estudantes de ensino básico. Os resultados estão virando impressionantes: Entre 2008 e 2011 a evasão escolar foi reduzida nas EA em 37 por cento contra 11 por cento das outras escolas da rede pública. No mesmo período as EA melhoraram seu próprio desempenho no IDEB, merecendo destaque a escola Pablo Neruda na Taquara, que ocupa o segundo lugar dentro das melhores escolas do Rio e o quinto lugar à nível nacional.
A estratégia chave das EA está no seu enfoque integral. Além de educação, as escolas estão providenciando formação em valores cidadãos e estão oferecendo às crianças oportunidades de expandir suas atividades incluindo esportes, cultura e hábitos saudáveis alternativos à vida violenta de suas comunidades. A iniciativa tem precisado recursos financeiros mais também tem precisado uma mudança do modelo educativo para conseguir um foco mais proativo das escolas, dos educadores e dos alunos. Apresentamos um resumo dos seis pilares principais das EA que estão contribuindo a formar crianças mais saudáveis, competitivas e com capacidades iguais das outras crianças da cidade:
1. Envolvimento das crianças no horário integral: Atualmente, as EA oferecem mais de 50 atividades de reforço escolar. A estratégia consiste em envolver às crianças em atividades alternativas como esporte, arte e ciências quando elas não estão estudando.
2. Promoção das ciências: As EA procuram expandir o interesse das crianças nas ciências por meio de aceso a laboratórios e atividades experimentais monitoradas.
3. Expansão da saúde na escola: Para garantir que todas as crianças tenham acesso à saúde básica, cada EA conta com técnicos de enfermagem e visitas regulares das equipes de saúde compostas por médico, enfermeiro, dentista e auxiliar de saúde bucal.
4. Capacitação para os professores: Reconhecendo as condições especiais das EA, os professores recebem treinamento especifico em resolução de conflitos e gestão e dinâmica de sala de aula.
5. Expansão do Bairro Educador: Cada EA tem um técnico encarregado de gerar parcerias com outros membros da comunidade para conseguir expandir as atividades locais dentro do bairro. A estratégia procura transformar à comunidade numa extensão do espaço escolar por meio da promoção de atividades positivas fora da escola.
6. Trabalho com voluntários: Todas as EA procuram envolver pais e avós na promoção de bons comportamentos dentro e fora da escola.
Crédito fotográfico: Secretaria Municipal de Educação de Rio de Janeiro
Schools of Tomorrow: investing in high quality education in Rio's most violent neighborhoods
Catalina Gomez, Rio de Janeiro Community Manager
Even though Rio de Janeiro offers good coverage of basic public education, there are important gaps in terms of quality. Historically, low-income and violent neighborhoods in Rio have suffered from the highest school drop-out rates and the worst scores in standard tests. But this situation is changing, and faster than expected, thanks to the "Schools of Tomorrow" program, known locally as Escolas do Amanhã.
The Schools of Tomorrow program started in 2009 under the leadership of Rio's Municipal Secretariat of Education with the aim of reducing drop-out rates in the most violent neighborhoods of the city. It is currently operating in more than 155 schools, with more than 6000 active teachers, and is benefiting more than 105 thousand students. Results have been impressive: between 2008 and 2011, school drop-out rates within Schools of Tomorrow were reduced by 37 percent versus 11 percent in regular public schools. Schools of Tomorrow are also performing better on standardized tests than before; and there are exceptional cases like the School of Tomorrow in Taquara, which has the city's second highest score and is within Brazil's top five performing schools.
The key of the Schools of Tomorrow initiative has been its comprehensive approach. Beyond basic education, these schools aim to offer beneficiary children the opportunity to build civil values and expand their opportunities to play sports, learn from cultural activities, and have a healthy alternative lifestyle beyond the violence they see in their local communities. This initiative has required financial resources, but more importantly, it has required a shift of the educational model towards a more comprehensive approach that encourages more proactive schools, teachers, and students. These are the six main pillars of the Schools of Tomorrow, which ensure that beneficiary children grow up to be healthy, competitive, and capable:
1. Ensuring the full time engagement of children: When not studying, children are encouraged to participate in alternative activities such as art, sports, or science. Currently, the Schools of Tomorrow offer more than 50 alternative activities for children to learn from.
2.Promoting science courses: The Schools of Tomorrow expand children's involvement in the sciences by offering them access to science labs and the possibility to conduct experiments and research with the help of experienced teachers.
3. Expanding basic health coverage: In order to ensure the children's wellbeing, each School of Tomorrow is equipped with its own basic health team of several nurses. Each school also benefits from periodic visits from health teams, which include a doctor, a nurse, a dentist, and an oral hygiene assistant.
4. Building capacities among teachers: Given the special social conditions of these schools, teachers receive training in conflict resolution and in management of effective school dynamics.
5. Expanding the "educational neighborhood": In each School of Tomorrow, there is one school officer that liasons with community members and NGO representatives to expand activities with local residents. This strategy ensures that the neighborhood becomes the extension of the school, by teaching children positive behaviors while outside school.
6. Working with local partners and volunteers: This strategy targets parents and grandparents to encourage them to become active supporters of role model behaviors inside and outside the educational facilities.
Photo credit: Secretaria Municipal de Educação de Rio de Janeiro