Moderator’s Note: Dear members, please find below the Consolidated Reply of the query on Life Skills Education among Rural Adolescents. The query originally initiated from the Karnataka Community for Solution Exchange. Given its relevance, it was cross-posted on the AIDS and MCH Communities. We thank all members of the three communities for an overwhelming response to the query. We hope you find this document useful. You can view this consolidated reply at: ftp://ftp.solutionexchange.net.in/public/mch/cr/cr-se-aids-mch-19071001.pdf (PDF, Size: 550 KB)
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Query: Life Skills Education among Rural Adolescents- Experiences; Examples
Compiled by Joy Elamon, Resource Person and Nabeel M. K. and Meenakshi Aggarwal, Research Associates
Issue Date: 23 November 2010
From Aarathi, Community Development Foundation (CDF), Gulbarga
Posted 19 July 2010
I work as a student counsellor in a high school programme at Sedam Taluk of Gulbarga District, initiated by Community Development Foundation (CDF). This work is supported by India Literacy Project and Terre des Hommes, Germany.
I conduct classes for high school students on Personal Hygiene, Reproductive Health and HIV. Most of the students understand the programme and learn various aspects related to the above topics. However, some of the teachers are not comfortable with the idea of imparting Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) education to adolescents. They think that such programmes will misguide students, and lead them to get involved in sexual activity or even get preoccupied with these. Hence, they argue that information given to students must be very limited. In my experience, majority of the students are keen to know about issues related to adolescence and problems associated with it. Some of the students clear their apprehensions and doubts sometimes in the classroom or through individual sessions.
The Adolescent Education Programme (AEP) introduced by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in association with agencies like the National Council on Educational Research and Training (NCERT) was withdrawn by the Education Department of Karnataka in 2007. There were allegations that the training material was not suitable to the local cultural ethos. Hence, the Department introduced new version of Life Skills Education (LSE) for school-going adolescents. However, considering the high drop-out rate after primary school, a large number of out-of-school adolescents are left out from this programme. Nevertheless, these adolescents face higher exposure to a number of risky behaviours and are vulnerable.
I therefore request members to provide inputs on the following:
What are your experiences with different approaches to implement the SRH component of LSE for High School students at village level?
What kind of programmes will ensure the involvement of Teachers and Parents in LSE?
How can we reach-out and ensure access to LSE Programme for out-of-school adolescents and who should take responsibility for this challenge?
Your responses will enhance my work and our organisation’s initiative of working with the adolescents in our area.
Responses were received, with thanks, from
Deepak Kumar Kar, National Rural Health Mission, Guwahati
Swati, Community Development Foundation(CDF), Bengaluru*
K. Suresh, Public (Child) Health Consultant, New Delhi*
Suchitra Mankar, Armed Forces (Retired), Pune*
*Offline Contribution Further contributions are welcome!
Summary of Responses
Responses in Full
Summary of Responses
The query on Life Skills Education (LSE) for Rural Adolescents received overwhelming response from a wide array of practitioners. Experiences with different models and approaches indicate that LSE helps adolescents to learn, and relate the lessons to real-life situations. Thus, LSE equips adolescents to practice safe and healthy behaviours, and builds confidence in their day-to-day lives. There is a need to scale-up LSE in several parts of the country and with different segments of populations. Towards this objective, respondents shared experiences and resources addressing the specific issues raised in the query.
Involvement of Teachers and Parents
Involvement of Parents and Teachers in LSE helps to build confidence among adolescents and reinforce LSE. Nevertheless, this critical aspect of LSE remains a challenge in many places. Experiences indicate that involvement of Parents and Teachers improve if they receive objective information and facts pointing to the need of LSE.
Parents and Teachers need to know that adolescents tend to seek information regarding Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) issues from different sources. In the absence of LSE, adolescents end up receiving factually incorrect and misleading information. In addition, there are several misconceptions among Parents and Teachers. Some of them believe that LSE is only about sexuality. Some others fear that LSE will lead to early initiation of and experimentation of sexual activity among adolescents. Thus, LSE programmes need to address misconceptions of Parents and Teachers.
The "Letter Box" approach in answering students’ question will not have much objection among teachers and school authorities. In this approach, teachers get adequate time to work on and consult other teachers or experts regarding the questions. Since the questions are anonymous and the answers are addressed to everyone, teachers and adolescents do not feel embarrassed. Even introvert and shy adolescents can seek answers to their problems through this approach.
It is thus important to orient and sensitise key stakeholders, including adolescent gatekeepers and decision makers. Thus implementers need to involve school principals and teachers, media personnel, community leaders, and civil society representatives right from the planning stage itself. Workshops, consultations and seminars in collaboration with Health and Education Officers at the district level will help build consensus on the issues of adolescents and the importance of LSE. Community ownership will ensure access to both school-going and non-school-going adolescents.
LSE for Out-of-School Adolescents
In places that require LSE, implementers can organise group of youngsters as peer educators. LSE programmes can train them to play a pivotal role in creating awareness on LSE including SRH education. Peer educators can organise awareness programmes, conduct street plays and community meetings. Emphasis on community ownership with buy-in from adolescents, local leadership, and the community at large is crucial in this approach.
Organising camps for adolescents and youth will effectively carry forward the work on LSE and SRH education. These camps can be residential or non-residential, with focus on adolescents in community. This approach has some advantages in contrast with peer-led education. The camp approach imparts ethics, values, and discipline, and promotes an environment of socialisation within the family and community. The process can be followed up and reinforced using other community-based approaches including peer-led ones.
LSE programmes for out-of-school adolescents need to have additional provisions for vocational guidance and skills development. Similarly, it is important for the schools to initiate basics of LSE and vocational training during upper primary school. Evidence indicates that a significant number of students drop out of schools at this stage. Foundations laid at this stage will help community-based LSE programmes later to reach such out-of-school adolescents. Programmes can reach-out to workplaces like automobile workshops, mechanic shops, brassware workshops and tea shops, where adolescents and young people tend to work.
Self Help Groups (SHGs) and similar collectives give an important opportunity where LSE programmes can reach young out-of-school adolescents, especially girls. Periodic joint meetings of mothers with daughters, and fathers with sons, will help in reducing the taboo and apprehensions about LSE. This approach could also lead to supporting the adolescents in decision making on issues like marriage and family planning. However, parents and adolescents may not be comfortable in discussing all issues jointly. Hence, there need to exercise a careful discretion on the issues to choose for joint meetings and the age appropriateness of adolescents.
Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and the Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) have a mandate on Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health (ARSH) aspects in villages. Hence, the involvement of ASHAs and ANMs in LSE is crucial. Additionally, LSE programmes can link with ASHAs and ANMs to promote various services including counselling.
SRH issues need to be integral components of LSE. However, LSE needs to be much beyond SRH and address issues like nutrition, hygiene, and general physical and mental health. Importantly, LSE must equip adolescents with skills like decision-making, assertiveness, negotiating and self-awareness, and overall personality development. Thus, integrating issues and concerns of adolescents within different subject-specific content areas of the curriculum is another approach in imparting LSE.
Interventions by Government agencies, international NGOs, and NGOs from across the country have developed several toolkits, curricula and resources for LSE. Schools in different states make use of these toolkits and LSE curricula. Additionally, LSE programmes in some states have adapted the contents of these toolkits into various informational and educational materials to reach out-of-school children. Nevertheless, organisations working with adolescents need to have a good stock of relevant documentary films, books, and other Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material. Necessary material available in the community can complement as self-learning too.
Overall, experiences from various states have shown to give results and are hence promising. Nevertheless, the concept of LSE and SRH education for adolescents is like a double-edged weapon. Thus, implementers must take particular care not to hurt the sentiments of the society or to disrespect the privacy and sensitivities of individuals.
The success of a pilot initiative in one place need not be successful in other areas. Most of the successful models cater to particular geographical region or group of adolescents. Therefore, it is vital to analyse the different approaches and experiences of others, and judiciously adapt to the local needs and cultural milieu. In any case, no one can ignore LSE, which grooms adolescents and facilitate the realisation of their full potential as human beings.
Assam Peer-led Life Skills Education (LSE) under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Kamrup District, Guwahati(from Deepak Kumar Kar, National Rural Health Mission, Guwahati)
The project implemented in partnership with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) targets rural adolescents through peer educators and youth volunteers. The peer educator is called a Sathee and every group of 20 Sathees is guided by one peer volunteer called Sathee Mitra. NYKS train Sathee Mitras who in turn act as links between implementing agencies and Sathees. Through this structure, NYKS is able to percolate Life Skills Education (LSE) down to rural adolescents.
Bihar Learning Games – A Capacity Building Programme for Girls (from Paramita Chaudhuri, Reach India, Kolkata)
Reach India is imparting Learning Games to 6000 girls in two districts of Samastipur and Patna in Bihar. The programme is implemented in collaboration with Women Development Cooperation, Bihar, and engages district level SHG federations. It trains girls using games, stories, skits, songs, rhymes and dialogue, and progresses from simple topics to sensitive topics. The programme is successful in encouraging learning, building girls’ self-confidence, and developing key life skills. Read More Bihar and Jharkhand Development Initiative Supporting Healthy Adolescents (DISHA) Programme (from Sushmita Mukherjee, International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), New Delhi)
The DISHA programme focuses on youth participation to improve skills and capacity through peer education, youth groups, and livelihoods training. With Life Skills Education as the base, and with community support, this programme created an enabling environment for meeting youth sexual and reproductive health needs. An evaluation conducted after two years revealed that this approach is effective in improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health. Read More
Uttar Pradesh (UP) Scheme for Adolescent Counselling for Health (SACH), Meerut and Allahabaad (from Anil Kumar Sukumaran, Orchid, Isleworth, United Kingdom)
SACH recognises the need to equip out-of-school adolescents with information and skills required to develop as healthy individuals. The scheme is implemented through communication activities for awareness generation, counselling, and linkages with existing centres for providing Adolescent-Friendly Reproductive and Sexual Health Services. Thus, SACH addresses the age-specific and gender-specific needs of out-of-school adolescents in the 15-19 year age group. Read More
Sahajani Shiksha Kendra reaching out to Adolescent Girls, Lalitpur (from Shubhangi Sharma, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), New Delhi)
Sahajani Shiksha Kendra is working in Mehroni block of Lalitpur district in UP since April 2002. The programme aims at empowering women and adolescent girls through literacy and education. In addition, they organise Women’s Collectives, and enable them to develop analytical skills on gender, development and other issues. Through its different activities, the programme reaches over 500 women and adolescent girls from marginalised Dalit and Adivasi communities. Read More Rajasthan Doosra Dashak (DD) project working with In-School and Out-of-School Adolescents (from Shubhangi Sharma, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), New Delhi)
The DD project in nine blocks of Rajasthan conducts residential trainings separately for boys and girls, outside school settings. The project has a systematic and ongoing process of interacting with parents and community in general. In addition, DD engages school teachers in the activities. By gaining their confidence and by integrating the community into the project, DD is successful in providing adolescents with holistic education, integrated with issues relevant to their lives. Read More West Bengal Life Skills Education for Adolescent Trafficked Girls Returning to Rural Areas (from Dr. Charulatha Banerjee, Terre des Hommes Foundation, Kolkata)
Terre des hommes Foundation works with girls in partnership with Sanlaap through a project titled 'Protection and Quality of Care Action' (PAQCA). Trafficked children as young as 11 years after being withdrawn from sexual exploitation are rehabilitated in a receiving facility for a maximum of three months. Apart from other services, this period before being moved to their families or group homes in rural areas, is useful to provide Life Skills Education. Read More Delhi From Anamika Sharma, Shine Foundation, New Delhi Experienced Facilitators Allay Misconceptions of Adolescents and Parents
Shine Foundation is implementing LSE among adolescents in an urban slum community. They find that adolescents have alternate channels of finding information related to issues like sexuality, which often tend to be factually incorrect. Hence, Shine Foundation relies on experienced facilitators with thorough knowledge. These facilitators confront myths and misconceptions among adolescents as well as among parents during their periodic interactions. Read More
Integrating Life Skills with Vocational Skill Development Programme for Youth
Shine Foundation recognises the need for financial and economic stability of the community in which children and young people live. Hence, Shine provides vocational training to unemployed youth, along with Life Skills Education. Jan Shikshan Sansthan a programme of Government of India, evaluates and certifies the skill development programme. Thus, the programme imparts holistic life skills education, which helps them with income generation as well. Read More
Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana Better Life Options Programme of the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) (from Meenakshi Aggarwal, Research Associate)
CEDPA partnered with four NGOs to provide family life education and implement adolescent-friendly reproductive health services as part of the Better Life Options Programme. The strategies included school approach, camp approach, as well as integrated approach. The programme succeeded in providing a comprehensive package of reproductive health and nutrition information and services, skills development, and recreation, to a total of 9,762 adolescent boys and girls. Read More Jharkhand UDAAN - Towards a Better Future: A Pubic Private Partnership Programme to address issues of Reproductive Health and HIV (from Javed Shaikh, Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), Ranchi)
CEDPA collaborates with the State Department of Education, and Jharkhand State AIDS Control Society to implement this programme. They developed an in-school curriculum and created a cadre of state-level master trainers. The curriculum includes life skills, domestic violence, goal setting, gender–based and sexual harassment, growing up, health, and early marriage. Through trained nodal teachers, the programme reaches out to 250,000 boys and girls across the State. Read More PRAYASH for Youth Friendly Services; Bishnugarh Block; Hazaribag District (from Saket Sharma, Child In Need Institute (CINI), Jharkhand)
PRAYASH facilitates the provision of Sexual and Reproductive Health information, and improved access to Youth Friendly Services. In addition, PRAYASH established village Youth Resource Centre supported by community members. The centre serves as a safe place for adolescents to take part in recreational activities apart from host of other services. As a result, adolescents are empowered with increased self-determination, knowledge and skills to protect their health. Read More