Teen Channel Community Learning Centres Programme – Linking Learning & Livelihoods to Address Learning Needs of Adolescents at Risk
The CAP Project, initiated in 1997, is an independent registered organization demonstrating public-partnership initiatives between civil societies, corporate and government agencies to address poverty alleviation through Linking Learning and Livelihoods for communities of children, youth and women “at risk”. The CAP’s continuous and increasing support base has contributed significantly to the Project understanding and developing flagship innovations, approaches and strategies for linking learning and livelihoods across the children-families-communities continuum.
One such flagship innovation is the Teen Channel – Community Learning Centers Initiative which attempts to connect learning and livelihoods in a model that addresses critical issues affecting the quality of life and future of adolescents and youth who opt out of school as well as potential drop-outs among school going adolescents between the ages 14-18 years in an enabling environment that addresses their needs continuum – academic educational, social, life skills, recreational and workplace readiness. Adolescents and Young adults who go through this program are enabled to complete formal high school certification, acquire market oriented employability skills as well as apprenticeship and part-time employment placement support
A study conducted by CAP & consultations with adolescents and their family members in 2003, helped identify major concerns affecting the learning needs of adolescents and youth at risk. Lack of easy access to higher education facilities (especially for girls), inability of the existing learning module in upper primary and high schools to provide any connectivity to their future career & livelihoods, and life skills to prepare them for future, as contributing to low high school completion rates, high drop outs, child labour, unemployment and under employment. While the government has been making concerted efforts to provide quality education to all children, these efforts are concentrated at the primary or at most elementary level. The experience shows that many marginalised families cannot do without the wages brought by these children. Thus, these children required an integrated and flexible learning program. The reasons range from economic compulsions of the family, Socio-Cultural issues and beliefs that prevent adolescents, particularly girls, from going to high school. Added to this is the firm belief that the existing formal education system does not help students to develop the requisite skills that would aid in their future livelihood. Some of the other explicitly cited reasons that emerged during the study through discussions and surveys conducted by CAP among 2500 out-of-school adolescents include physical, mental and emotional challenges faced by adolescents from urban slums particularly among first generation learners and migrants. Other reasons include lack of sustainable career and livelihood opportunities through the existing education system, lack of access to reinforcement opportunities to combat academic failure in formal school examinations, easy availability of temporary work opportunities often exploitative and hazardous, absence of conducive learning environment in formal schools, early marriage norms and family cycles, lack of clean and proper sanitation facilities (especially for a girl child) and inability to cope with educational pressure.
To address this learning needs of the adolescents, CAP had designed an integrated learning program for adolescents called Teen Channel program. The Teen Channel program through Community Learning Centres aims at reaching out to the adolescents who opt out of school as well as potential drop-outs between the ages 14- 18 years by providing them integrated learning opportunities comprising academic support for high school completion, life skills, career exploration, work place readiness, basic computer skills and part time work. Based on the accelerated learning /bridge school model, the centres facilitate learning in a flexible manner at the convenience of the adolescents and the emphasis of the programme is on self- learning at one’s own pace that enables them to attend the program as well as engage in non-exploitative family supporting apprenticeship/part time jobs thereby promoting “earn while you learn” concept. The centres also provide for recreational facilities for the adolescents so as to channelize their energies positively. The centres are linked to the nearest government schools for high school (tenth grade) public exams and CAP networks with the Education department to provide free text books and public exam fee exemption for the students.
Components of The Teen Channel Programme include-
- Basic Skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing)
- Academic competencies for 10th class certification
- Life skills
- Basic Computer literacy
- Spoken English
- Career exploration & market oriented employability skill development
- Apprenticeship and part-time employment placement support
- Integrated Adolescent Development Plan (IADP)- for Monitoring and guidance
What it means for the Teens?
- Flexible timings
- Learning at one’s own pace
- Informed multiple options
- Space for participation
- Consistent performance and course completion of high school by dropouts
- Increased employability and placement opportunity for full time / part time work opportunities
- Increased incomes of families of young adults
The bridge school program that was developed through the investments was adopted to develop the accelerated learning module for out of school adolescents in Teen Channel program. The program provides the adolescents academic support for high school completion, life skills and career exploration at flexi timings at the pace of individuals as well as take up part time jobs to support their families. Non-residential bridge school strategy evolved in response to the problem faced in extending the residential camp program to girls and children from minority communities, resulted in the increased enrolment of girls and also provided CAP an opportunity to successfully establish and demonstrate non-residential bridge school as an economically viable alternative to the residential Bridge school.
The access approaches moved from police mentored to community based approach encompassing police-to-child, child-to-child, parent-to-child, community-to-child and teacher-to-child mobilisation. The mobilisation strategies evolved over time have demonstrated sustainability, replicability and adaptability in terms of the entire bridge school process becoming child–centered, community based participatory and mainstream school led
This program has been taken forward by many other organisations.
Quality Learning Improvement Interventions ranged and progressed from non-formal inputs to the Bridge school to development of Bridge school modules, interface curriculum with individualized rapid learning technique as well as remedial and reinforcement modules to concentrate on drop-out retrieval and control.
Through a broad range of stakeholders network & support, over 15,000 out-of school adolescents and young adults have been serviced under this program and supported to continue both education and work in a balanced way. They are invariably the sole or main breadwinners of their families and continue to do so while also accessing quality education opportunities to further the quality of their life and career prospects.
The outcomes have been very encouraging. Despite being school drop outs, over 82% of these children have passed their Board exams within the year and more than 40% youth find placement after having gone through employability skill training while almost 60% go for higher education.
In the context of large numbers of adolescents who either drop-out of the formal learning opportunities or fail to complete the schooling process, and move on to acquire market driven employability competencies there is a need for a specialized learning opportunity program for 12-17 year olds that will not merely retain them in the formal education system but will help them successfully complete their schooling. No single strategy can address the complex range of issues, which result in school adolescents dropping out to access learning opportunities that guarantee positive outcomes for their future. Essentially these are due to poor academic preparation/performance and poor work-world orientation, thereby leading to a mismatch between the demand and them and the deficit in knowledge, attitudes and skills and workplace competencies.
The Teen Channel attempts to connect learning and livelihoods in a model that addresses critical issues affecting the quality of life and future of adolescents who opt out of school as well as potential drop outs between the ages of 13-17 years for academic education, social, life skills, recreational and work place readiness. Adolescents and young adults who go through this program are enabled to complete formal high school certification, acquire market oriented vocational training as well as apprenticeship and part time employment placement support. The Teen Channel’s unique innovations include vocational training development training non exploitative family supporting income opportunities, easy access to integrated learning module, long term career option pathways and placement support linking learning and market oriented livelihood opportunities.
Over 7650 young people have gone through this programme in Andhra Pradesh/Telangana and Tamil Nadu.