Multi-Skill Vocational Training and Entrepreneurship Development as Part of Secondary Education
This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
Innovative Secondary Education for Skills Enhancement (ISESE) competition.
To address the issue of significant disconnect between the education received in the school and the skills needed in the real life, our innovation spurs entrepreneurship and creates jobs by making life and job skills training universally available in the government aided high schools, primarily in rural India. We take the philosophy of “learning by doing” and “work ethics and culture” to the rural population and assimilate them with the ongoing dynamic economic change in India.
By working with the state government, we partner with state aided high schools in rural communities to incorporate multi-skill job and life skills training as part of the secondary school curriculum. We develop the curriculum, recruit the trade practitioners (plumbers, carpenters, electricians etc) from the local communities and train them to be instructors, buy equipment and pay for the running costs and other expenses for a period of three years. Students take the classes, based on well developed curriculum, one day during the school week for three years, spanning grades 8, 9, and 10. They also carry out various aspects of running a business, namely accounting, finance, marketing and customer service for real through various revenue generating projects and earn real income.
Currently, over 10,000 young boys and girls are part of this program over 61 villages in three states in India.
Co-founder, Sunanda Mane was nominated as Ashoka Fellow 2011 for the work done through Lend-A-Hand India.
Your role in education
About Your Organization
India, MM, Pune
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
How long has your organization been operating?
References - Please provide two references with a two-sentence biography, email address, and phone number for each
Name: Venky Raghavendra
Phone: +1 804.418.6246
Formerly Managing Director - "Ashoka: Innovators for the Public", Washington DC and the Chief Philanthropy Officer of the American India Foundation
Name: Nithin Umapathi
Sector expert with World Bank in the field of Youth employment.
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Scaling (the next step will be growing impact on a regional or even global scale)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for 1‐5 years
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
The significant disconnect between the education imparted and livelihood / real life skills needed resulting in lack of livelihood opportunities in rural India is a major contributor to youth unemployment and urban migration. Most teachers follow the rote method of learning which results in a lack of comprehension and active engagement of the students. Further, educational curriculum followed focuses more towards the needs of the urban population. Knowledge and skills sets relevant to the life of the rural population on subjects such as agriculture, animal husbandry, health and basic engineering are not addressed in the educational curriculum in rural India.
In the absence of adequate opportunities to find gainful employment locally, many also discover that do not have the skill sets or confidence to set up their own venture. This results in waves of unskilled workers moving to urban areas in search of work. Over time, this has also resulted in the rural youth increasingly feeling disconnected from the local environment. They aspire for the variety and quality of educational and livelihood opportunities available in urban India-which results in a drain of local resources.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Our solution complements existing educational curriculum to make content more relevant to the rural environment and provide students with a more hands on experience. Subjects such as basic engineering, energy, environment, agriculture, animal husbandry and home and health science are introduced. The program complements existing theory taught in school in subjects like mathematics and science.
We believe entrepreneurial qualities and values are more likely to develop if explored and nurtured at a young age. Hence the course targets high school student age 14-18 years.
Instead of recruiting instructors from outside the village, we saw the potential of the local community in acting as instructors. We work with the school management to identify and train instructors, who are typically local micro-entrepreneurs in the identified fields. In addition to monetary incentives, these micro-entrepreneurs also receive opportunity to undertake additional work orders received by the school from the community, appear for open school diploma examinations and access to networks to expand their business.
To follow a sustainable grassroots model that will capitalize on existing infrastructure and resources to achieve scale and sustainability we partner with Government-aided schools, pervasive in rural India, to implement this approach. We contribute to approximately 80% of the initial costs and the schools are required to invest the remaining 20%. Pursuant to such commitment, the school management makes arrangements for space and infrastructure necessary to launch the program.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
The course includes a mix of traditional academic work and hands on projects. On the academic side, students learn the theory behind the subject in question and on the experimental side, they learn by doing. Students get the benefit of a real life working experience by doing most of their practical work by serving the needs of the community around them. They undertake various activities such as learning to test their blood, fabrication, repairing equipment and growing produce under the guidance of the instructors. Students also acquire practical business skills such as timeliness, calculating costs, marketing and selling their products locally and ascertaining profits. We maintain a gender-neutral approach in imparting the education. By doing so, we have empowered girls with skills such as electrical wiring, fabrication and carpentry.
On account of active participation of the local community, students also retain a strong connect with the community. Since the introduction of the course, schools have become a focal point for the community – a space where work orders are carried out, flowers and produce are sold. Revenues generated through these activities go back to the school.
It has resulted in the formal recognition of the program as a full credit course Government of Maharashtra. In schools attendance is almost 100% due to this program and drop out rates have gone down. So called "back benchers" show increased interest and performance. In a recent survey conducted with 1,200 students who graduated, over 250 of the students planned to start their own business.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Several organizations are providing vocational training to the youth. However, they have been limited in their reach and scope typically providing training in a single trade over short period without aiming to develop scientific temper and problem solving abilities. Very few organizations encourage entrepreneurship and creation of opportunities and instead focus on building skills towards jobs in the urban market. Also, existing initiatives target students after they graduate from high schools resulting in them making choices of skill without any background. Further, most such training centers operate outside of schools or universities implying limited access to the community.