Providing youth with opportunities to learn and cultivate skills is a key factor in lifting people out of poverty. Planet Aid funds school-centered initiatives as well as educational institutions for young adults who can learn valuable skills and then invest their expertise and knowledge back into their own communities.
Nikhalamo—Girls Stay in School
In many developing countries, a gender imbalance persists in school enrollment and completion. Research shows that educated women are less likely to marry early, more likely to have healthy babies, and are more likely to send their own children to school. The Nikhalamo—Girls Stay in School Project is a Planet Aid-supported initiative funded by USAID and implemented in Mozambique by ADPP Mozambique in partnership with Girl Child Rights. Nikhalamo aims to reduce obstacles that prevent girls from transitioning from upper primary school (sixth and seventh grade) to secondary school.
Based in the Namacurra district of Zambezia Province, the project works with 18 primary schools and three secondary schools. In 2019, the project supported over 5,000 vulnerable girls by providing them access to girl education promoters and mentors as well as training teachers in gender sensitivity. Other activities included building latrines and distributing sanitary pads. Through active follow-up and tracking of a cohort of girls, the project prevented early and forced marriages as well as assisted pregnant students in their return to school.
Kadam Step-Up Centers
India’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, but the country also has an extraordinary number of out-of-school children. At least 35 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 do not attend school. Rather than obtaining the education that they need at a formative time of intellectual growth, they work as rag pickers, manual laborers at construction sites, or elsewhere in the informal sector. Many arrive in the urban slums from outlying areas with their families, hoping to grasp the promise of India’s rising economic wave. Because their families have no official residence in the city, often living in little more than a makeshift tent or box, these children are prevented from formally enrolling in a mainstream school.
Planet Aid supports children in North India through Kadam Step-Up Centers, a program implemented by Humana People to People India (HPP-India). The centers provide access to education for the children who are unable to attend formal schooling. This two- to three-year program enables youth to complete their elementary school education through grade eight, either through classes offered at the Step-Up Center itself or by re-entering the mainstream school system.
Step-Up Centers also actively work to mobilize local communities, train youth in basic computer skills, and assist children in enrolling in mainstream education when possible. In order to prepare pupils to switch over to mainstream education, the program offers innovative curriculum comprising of Hindi, mathematics, science, and English, along with government school curriculum and extra-curricular activities.
In 2019, Planet Aid–supported Kadam Step-Up Centers assisted more than 27,000 children. Approximately 18,800 of them transitioned to regular schools.
The staff at Step-Up Centers work to make the program a success for children by not only offering quality lessons on a flexible schedule, but by also raising awareness and mobilizing parents, local school teachers, and educational authorities to work together for the sake of the children. The staff also organize events in the children’s communities, such as clean-up actions, and ensure that every child receives the individual support they need.
For more information on other Step-Up Center programs, see the Humana People to People India website.
Vocational and Skills Training
Today young people are far more likely to be unemployed than adults. That is why education and training are key determinants of success in the labor market. But unfortunately, existing systems are not addressing the learning needs of many young people, and surveys of learning outcomes and skills show that many youth have low levels of achievement in basic literacy and numeracy. Planet Aid supports training centers that cater to young men and women from rural areas who are eager to make a better life for themselves. The students are trained in a variety of subjects that help them to become more employable or to become entrepreneurs. In some cases, students also can gain work experience by apprenticing at a business. Companies enlist the students, and their teachers are involved in guiding them and assessing their performance. This kind of experience makes it possible for students to have a broader, more practical understanding of their field of study and of the real situation in the workplace.