Always Forward 

Stories of kids connected with Arthan Foundation 

 

Over the last year, Arthan Foundation has been able to enrich the lives of over 2500 kids with ‘Daftar Duniya’, an educational and career counselling programme for government school children. Every child we have connected with has big dreams and now they are confident enough to pursue those dreams. During and post the training, the results and response from the kids have always been exhilarating and it only pushes us forward to work harder and makes us realise that so many more children need this and therefore, much work is left to be done.

Every once in a while, we come across kids whose stories inspire us. It solidifies our work and helps us realise that this is why we do what we do. Here are the stories of three kids amongst many, who chose to dream bigger than they are and are working to make them a reality. 

Meena’s story starts with her first flight to Srinagar that happened when she was 12. She is a girl from Delhi from a low-income household and therefore, her father told her that this could be her first and last flight. From what she had heard from people, she expected her flight experience to be smooth but little did she know that travelling to Srinagar would be a totally different experience. The 7 layers of excessive checking increased the hassle for a first-time flyer. Their panic levels rose at every point because they were not warned about this. This being her first time, Meena was scared when she was boarding the flight. On seeing this, one of the air hostesses provided her with a glass of juice and a few chocolates. She was stunned as no one had behaved like this with her before and made her feel special. In her time of fear, the air hostess seemed like an angel to her. Later when the flight took off, there was a lot of turbulence and to add to that chaos, a lot of them in the flight were first time flyers. The cabin crew handled the chaos with grace and they individually consoled every petrified passenger.

The behaviour and the professionalism of the cabin crew intrigued Meena and she had so many questions like ‘How can they be so warm and helpful to people they do not even know?’, ‘How are they so sharply dressed, can speak English and yet are so polite at the same time?’. This was the first time that Meena had experienced helpful and yet professional behaviour. She was inspired by the way they looked, carried themselves and mainly how they helped everyone onboard and that was the day she decided that she would someday want to be one of them. There’s a societal tendency to look down on girls who become air hostesses instead of taking up other jobs. But Meena does not pay heed to all of that because the notion of helping people has always been her primary source of interest.

They say that real life inspiration from careers is the most impactful to a jobseeker or a future jobseeker and Meena was inspired by the air hostesses, so much that she has not changed her ambition in the last 4 years and is diligently working to make this dream a reality.

The second story revolves around Rajan, a 17-year-old boy from Delhi who aspires to become a dancer. He wants to do ‘English’ ‘Hip-hop’ dance. His interest began when he saw the dances during his community festivals and eventually, he wanted to take part too. He could not afford to sign up for dance classes so therefore, he started learning from YouTube. At first, he was starstruck with all the things he saw for the first time on YouTube. He slowly started to mimic the dance moves that he saw and he used the mirror as his teacher.

Rajan had started taking up dance in class 6 and by class 10, he had learnt close to 20 dance forms just via YouTube. He then appeared for a lot of local competitions from which he won quite a few. Since there was a lack of resources from his side, he could not enrol himself for classes under semi-professional dancers and teachers. The journey is going to be a little longer and a little tougher for him but we have no doubt that he would make it.

As of now, he is completing his tenth grade and running his dance academy at the same time which mostly pays for his education and his investment for his future as a dancer. The lack of financial support from anywhere else has not become a hindrance in Rajan’s journey to make himself and live as a professional dancer.

The final story here is of Suresh who is also a Delhi boy and from low-income background. He is a science enthusiast and an ‘academic champion’ in his locality because he was one of the very few that actually took science and wanted to study further. Suresh is crazy about Elon Musk, ISRO, NASA etc and wants to study about space.

Suresh has been trying a lot from his side but he is not able to land scholarships that would take him further into his dream of becoming an astronaut. The disheartening revelation here is that he does not have a clue as to how to go about with his higher studies and his job. As of now, his love for science can be seen when he uses refurbished materials to do his experiments which he learns via YouTube. He has not given up yet and does not want to rest until he gets his dream job.

Our team at Arthan Foundation is able to connect with bright young lives like these and help them make a difference by equipping them with all that they need to navigate their professional space.

This is why we do what we do. 


Fighting Unemployability - One classroom at a time

Daftar Duniya 2.0 - Arthan’s continued efforts to light up classrooms for a brighter future

“Beta, abhi Science le lo aur uske baad Engineering karna. Acha package milega, settle ho jaoge aur khush rahoge (Kid, take science and study engineering. You will get a well paying job)” said almost every Indian parent, aunt, uncle, close and distant relatives, well-wishers, strangers and practically every elderly person of the mainstream Indian society. Depending on a few variable factors, the option could also be extended to being a medical professional, a corporate professional, a bank official or even a government job employee. 

That is the generic career counselling that a multitude of students get during their educational years and for some, unfortunately, this is the only career counselling that they get in their entire lives. A humongous amount of expectations and responsibilities are just dumped on the student’s shoulders without even considering that they maybe are not cut-out for that stream and line of work. Schools and colleges, too, do not do a very good job of equipping their students with information and skill sets about career opportunities.  

Only 1 out of every 5 students in India get career counselling and information about career opportunities in their educational years. The rest are just left to fend for themselves in an overly competitive world. According to a recent survey done by Wheebox for India Skills Report 2018, almost 85% of candidates state that they are not equipped to take career decisions. The career counselling methods used in the educational institutions and career fairs are considered medieval in today’s day and age and they are unable to keep up with the dynamics of the students and the workspace. 

The conditions are only worse for students and job seekers from government schools and low-income communities. Their inaccessibility towards proper education is only later topped with no or improper guidance at best, in terms of career. The August 2018 IC3 (International Career and College Counselling) Conference in New Delhi stated that India’s 350 million student population is in dire need of 1.4 million career counsellors to maintain a globally acceptable student-to-counsellor ratio. Those hard-hitting numbers are being fought by many in their own ways, across the country and the globe. One amongst them is ‘Arthan Foundation’, a Delhi based Non-Profit Organisation. Their programme, titled, ‘Daftar Duniya’ helped change lives of 5000 kids in the last year. They had 65 facilitators who went to 40 schools and devoted 600 hours to educate around 5000 kids on their career possibilities. 

This year, Arthan is back with ‘Daftar Duniya 2.0’, a continued effort to change young lives. This programme has been heavily refined after the successes and failures of its predecessor. The programme has been highly streamlined compared to its previous version. A lot has been added to the programme and also, the course has now been systematically divided into parts for a clearer understanding. To give a little more insight into this, the first part of the process deals with self-awareness and psychometric evaluations. The second part then shifts to planning where they are taught about general planning, career planning and also, financial planning. The final part of the process is where the students are given large amount of information about careers and are told to plan their careers based on the awareness, they have about themselves. The kids are told to make two plans, one very ideal and aspirational and one rational, which also acts as a backup plan. 

Arthan delivers this whole career counselling package to the government school classrooms through its facilitators who are fellows from Teach For India (TFI) and Breakthrough India Trust. These facilitators are trained by the Arthan through a series of workshop sessions and they are sent to the classrooms to educate the children. The 2019 programme is expected to commence in July and the goal for this year is 10,000 students. The programme has been now expanded to more schools in Delhi and also Chennai, making it a tri-lingual course now. 

Daftar Duniya 2.0 is Arthan Foundation’s bit in making the world a little more educated and career secure. 


Educated & Unemployed – The Modern India

An insight on India’s Skill Gap demolishing the nation’s employability

The concept of ‘one size fits all’ blanketing the mainstream Indian education system has only pushed the edges of the skill gap prevailing in the country miles away from each other. Knowledge alone has never been the one defining factor that landed a person his/her job. Skillsets have always been instruments of utmost importance for any working professional to succeed at his/her workspace. 

The skill gap in India is the imminent threat that clouds the unemployed population of the country. According to a report by Accenture published on January 2019, 3 million plus graduates and post graduates enrol in the Indian workforce every year and only 25% of those applicants are considered employable in the IT and ITES segments. Looking at the global picture, with the presence of a skill mismatch and the absence of skill building in comparison to the rate of technological progress, the economies of the G20 nations are at the risk of losing up to US$11.5 trillion in potential cumulative GDP growth over the next 10 years. In India alone, due to the lack of youth with adequate, relevant and job ready skills for the digital economy, there is a risk of losing US$ 1.97 trillion over the next decade. Although the overall employability rate in India has moved up from 40.44% to 45.60% in the year 2017-2018, only 52% of the engineers are found employable. A huge 48% still remain incarcerated in the shackles of unemployment.

NGOBOX’s 2017 India CSR Outlook Report points out that 376 crores were spent during the year 2016-2017 for skill development programmes all across the country. With this, there was an obvious increase in the number of trained youths in the country. The youths were trained in various vocational skills which looked very well for the Skill India programme. Not long after, loopholes and gaps emerged in the skill training programmes too. The NSDC statistics on placements show that only half of the trained youth are employed while the other half are still suffering from unemployment. Also, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) placed their focus on the youths’ skill development but failed when it came to evaluating workspace opportunities post their skill training.

The varied nature of work today requires a mixture of soft and hard skills present in a working individual for him to be able to sustain himself in his place of work. The basic skills for employability include the person having:

  • Basic Education (literacy and numeracy skills)

  • Vocational and Technical expertise (specialised skills and knowledge)

  • Professional and Personal (individual attributes)    

  • Core work skills (ability to learn and adapt, communication skills, problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, etc.)

Looking at skill gap from a corporate perspective, there are quite a number of methods that businesses can adopt to bridge the skills gap. Their resources can be used as a proper form of investment that would actually cultivate and nurture the skill growth amongst the youth of the country. A few of those methods include-

  • Building enterprise and institute partnerships which can bring workforce development

  • Fostering knowledge/innovation clusters

  • Sectoral alliances

  • Global partnerships

  • Skill development programmes moving down company supply chains

  • National training funds

  • CSR

  • Earn and learn programmes

Even within skill development, there lies a bigger problem. The accessibility of skill development activities amongst government school students is at an almost negligible level when in reality, they are the ones who need it the most. They need these skill development programmes and activities to break out from the vicious cycle of poverty that they are intertwined with and live decent lives in decent income households.

Reimagining Opportunities, Rebuilding Careers

How Arthan Foundation’s ‘Daftar Duniya’ is empowering educators and changing lives

Multitudes of youngsters walk into unforgivingly challenging professional workspaces, equipped with only hollow skill sets and incompetent knowledge to fortify their standing.

Multitudes of youngsters only dream.

 The widened gap between formal education and the world of work has plagued youngsters stepping into professional workspaces. The condition is only worse for children and young adults from underserved communities who don’t have equal access to opportunities, education and career counselling. These youngsters do not receive the skills to equip them to meet the growing 21st century workspace needs, head on and are therefore left unemployed.

‘Daftar Duniya’, a programme of Delhi based non-profit organisation ‘Arthan Foundation’, is a ray of hope for government school students. Their aim, to empower educators working with children, have given well over 5000 government school children a realistic perspective into their dream job and how they should go about developing themselves, for it to be more than a dream. Arthan’s method of a  systematic ‘Training of Trainers’ has provided these educators with an in-depth training on the curriculum that they would further impart to the students in the government schools. The detailed and systematic curriculum has in itself essential tools focusing on self-discovery, planning for a world of work, mapping out barriers and overcoming them and the much needed 21st century skills which include problem solving, communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

The team’s process of training these trainers begins with them collaborating with organisations like Teach For India (TFI) and Breakthrough India Trust. The fellows or staff from these organisations sign up as educators and the Arthan team engages them in training sessions. These sessions allow the facilitators to re-imagine themselves as kids and go over imagining and planning their careers all over again- a process that helps them to better understand the activities that they would be conducting with the students, from the perspective of the students. These trainers, once completely trained in the curriculum, take it to their classrooms. The programme then runs for 16-19 weeks with the facilitators dedicating an hour a week towards the programme. 

The team’s continued and diligent efforts have made it possible for them to access more students and change a lot more lives in the last academic year. The team is more than determined to reach more children and enable them to recognize and fulfill  their potential. 

Market-Linked Education For Government Schools

Market-Linked Education For Government Schools

There is precedence of market-linked education at university level although the potential is under-utilised in developing countries. The collaboration helps in transfer of new technology to the market, ascertaining the focus of research, conducting research collaboratively with industry partners, internship placements and offering practical courses such as quality management. At the school level however, a clear link to the market is missing.


Impact Series: Revisiting Astha’s story


It is probably the oldest story in the world - a girl with a million dreams - questioning the existence of those dreams and wondering if they will ever come true.  The girl in our story is Astha.


We met and spoke to Astha through our career planning sessions, with her class. And it is safe to say that we learned from her as much as we may have taught. She forced us to think more in-depth about what a career means to girls like her - the very reason why one would want a job? Most commonly a career is about achieving one's professional goals, and fulfil one's aspirations of 'doing well'.  Astha’s career aspirations are aligned with that of her mother's. She realises the sacrifices her mother has made, and doing something for her is the only dream she has. If her Ma is proud, she will succeed.  


Astha aims to be a science teacher in a good school and says that will make her mother happy.  Her plan B is to become a soldier and serve the nation. She says some of these ideas came to her through discussions in the career planning workshops, before which she admits to not knowing much in this regard.  Astha’s most significant source of motivation is her mother’s trust in her, and the support provided by the faculty at her school. 

She has even started working towards her goals. Astha knows she needs to gain expertise in biology, physics and chemistry (which she dislikes).  She has started doing more science experiments and other related activities. She proudly tells us that she is regularly making notes, and searching for resources online. Through the career planning and work readiness workshops, Astha has discovered that it is not just about academics, values and soft skills are equally important, and she wants to acquire both. The classes have helped her get rid of the negative thoughts, understand her strengths and think of other exciting career avenues.  


It has been a thrilling experience working with Astha and being able to start a conversation about career, dreams and aspirations. We hope to work with many more Asthas and learn more about their ambitions, dreams and ideas of careers. 

We have just started, and have a long way to go. You can help us in supporting more children like Astha by donating on our crowdfunding campaign here. 

Snippets From Our Pilot Programme

Previously, we had shared the story of the completion of 6 months of Arthan Foundation. We touched upon our experiences of interacting with school children in Delhi government schools and talking to them about career planning. Our aim was to help them decide a path for themselves. Our pre-pilot was on a smaller scale with 30 girls from a school in Sangam Vihar. Several stories from the pre-pilot taught us about the reality of these children, while some made us disheartened, others were a simple reality check. A few of them had ideas about a future but lacked information on how to go about the career, or what were the minimum education requirements to meet them. On the other hand, a few girls had no idea at all. We were prepared to go on this journey where each story will be unique and decided to dive into the education system to start a conversation about career aspirations. 

In February, we partnered with Teach for India fellows to implement our modules on career planning and work readiness. Through them, our workshops were conducted all over Delhi, covering 10 government schools and 500 children. The workshops were conducted over a period of 3 weeks. This time, we interacted with more students, and each one with new ideas, visions and dreams. Some stories stuck with us, and some we hope to work within the coming years.  

During one of our workshops in a Delhi Government School

During one of our workshops in a Delhi Government School

 

While we are still looking at our pilot findings, initial results show that 43 % of students showed interest in higher education and the options related to it.  For instance, Astha told us that the classes had helped her analyse her strengths and understand the importance of interests, values, soft skills and other criteria in deciding and achieving success in one’s career. 

At the same time, 37% of students could look up resources relating to the career options they were interested in. With good digital literacy skills, the students were confident enough to do a Google search, read up on the professions they wanted to pursue and what were the requirements or eligibility criteria for the same.

Finally, 32% of the children were sure about on the subjects they wanted to choose after the class tenth.  

These are not our final findings as we are still evaluating some of our modules. However, the first trends have shown us a new direction, we have learnt about more students and what stops them from pursuing their goals, their problems and the solutions. The results from our pilot will help us to further expand on our module and make additions to the same. 

Going forward, we want to work with 10,000 children across Delhi and support these children in identifying their goals, pursuing them as they move from school to the world of work. We have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to support more children and you can help us achieve our goal. Donate now. 

Sustainable development, global citizenship to be a part of school curriculum in Sikkim

In a move to reform education curriculum - peace, sustainable development and global citizenship will be included in textbooks of Sikkim schools.  This move is a partnership between UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) and the Human Resource Development Department (HRDD) of Sikkim.  

The State Council of Education, Research and Training  (SCERT) and Azim Premji University, Bangalore will implement the project. 

After signing the partnership agreement, in a first, Sikkim became the only state in the country to have school education module focussing on Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED).

HRDD Additional Chief Secretary GP Upadhaya and UNESCO MGIEP Curricular Head Yoko Mochizuki signed the agreement at a local hotel in Gangtok in February 2018. 

As the entire world is talking and aspiring to achieve sustainable development goals, education on the same is necessary.  The project aims to include ideas of peace, global citizenship and sustainable development in textbooks of core subjects such as math, social sciences and languages. 

GP Upadhaya said, 'Sikkim is the first state to sign an agreement with UNESCO. It is a proud moment for Sikkim and HRDD to have Sustainable Development Goals incorporated into the school curriculum for Classes I-V.  A total of 45 resources teachers are under training for this project.  We are training teachers for writing scientifically, and we are in the process to adopt and pass Sustainable Development Act. It is essential to have SDGs in school education for the future generation to understand the depth of the problem.'

30 experts from around the world have prepared a guidebook focusing on embedding sustainable development into core subjects. In its next phase, UNESCO MGIEP will join hands with book development agencies and governments to train authors on utilising the guidebook and creating coursework accordingly.

Yoko Mochizuki said, 'it is a great learning journey for us in improving the education textbook system in Sikkim, and we are looking forward to this opportunity in front of us.'

Dr. Rabin Chettri, Director, SCERT confirmed that books for class I-V would be ready in December 2018.