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—Girl Stays 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.
Nikhalamo—Girl Stays in School Project is a Planet Aid-supported initiative implemented in Mozambique by ADPP Mozambique and sponsored by USAID. 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 the project works with 18 primary schools and three secondary schools. Some project activities include community awareness campaigns; intra-school science, mathematics, and technology competitions; the distribution of school materials; training of mentors for vulnerable girls; and gender-focused school committee training.
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 five 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 Planet Aid's sister organization 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 2018, Planet Aid supported 809 Step-Up Centers and helped over 40,000 out-of-school children, 14,000 of which were transitioned to mainstream schools throughout the year.
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 a large number of 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 and a more practical understanding of their field of study and of the real situation in the work place.
When implementing development projects, it's crucial that local voices and perspectives are part of the process. Including expertise from members of the community itself is a critical part of any development initiative's success.
Frontline Institute is a network of schools that trains local people to work on the frontline of development and fight against poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease. Trainees are placed in teams and given the skills and conceptual thinking to lead projects and mobilize their communities. The teams work on development projects, agricultural production, and community campaigns.
The program requires six months of classroom and practical experience. After successfully completing the program, the large majority of the students are employed by Humana People to People to implement what they have learned about global development. Planet Aid funds the Frontline Institute in Zimbabwe.