Indian youth typically face multiple pressures, both economic and social. Those in lower bracket of the age group 14 to 30 are particularly at risk, and consequently their ability to remain in the educational system is seriously comprised. Furthermore they migrate and become sexually active, exposing themselves to many risks for which they are often not prepared. DiA volunteer Frankie Rushton, discusses how the interventions of Seva Mandir help to stop this dangerous and uninformed migration.
Rural youth often face the predicament of living in the modern world without the tools that enable them to interact with the modern world properly. While some receive a level of formal or informal education the majority of youth are unable to confidently read or write. They face the challenge of poor economic conditions and a poor quality of education. Such circumstances, combined with the inaccessible nature of reliable information, means that youth are vulnerable to social pressures and risks within their lives.
When there are few economic prospects locally, the pressure of helping to financially provide for the household, means many young people are forced to migrate. India has 42 million internal migrants and a detailed in-house study conducted on adolescent migration revealed that almost 28% of adolescents migrate out of their village for work. Economic constraints in rural villages coupled with the lure and charm of the cities and the independence gained means that migration is almost inevitable. However, what is not inevitable is that the decision to migrate has to be uninformed.
Migration can bring economic and sexual exploitation. Therefore, there is a fundamental need to equip the youth with the confidence and awareness which will help them to resist such exploitation when they decide to migrate. 29% of migrating adolescents reported that they do not like migrating. Hence, the topic of uninformed migration clearly needs attention.
When making decisions that have the ability to change the course of an individual’s life it is imperative that they fully understand their options. In order to bring about change at the grassroots level Seva Mandir’s Youth Programme has facilitated the introduction of Youth Resource Centres (YRCs) to provide a forum for learning and discussion. YRCs were set up in early 2005 with the basic premises of facilitating:
1. Engagement with the youth who are losing their affinity with the village
2. Equipping the youth to meet the challenges of a changing world.
YRCs supported by Seva Mandir have provided the youth with a forum to engage in constructive recreation, thereby sharing experiences and learning. Since their introduction to rural villages they have grown and expanded in both size and attendees. There are currently 20 YRCs supporting over 2000 youths.
Through these YRCs, the youth will be furnished with the skills, values and knowledge they require at their critical threshold of adulthood. To help the youth become the future voices for their village and its development.
YRCs are fundamental in helping youth realise their potential in society. Through this learning they are empowered with a better understanding of their employment and employment law. Consequently, the concern of uninformed migration is addressed through YRC teachings. Youth who may previously have been at risk of making uninformed decisions concerning migration and be at risk of exploitation are now empowered through education provided by their YRC, thanks to Seva Mandir. The literacy skills they learn enable them to write home and understand contracts regarding work, the numerical lessons they have enable them to understand their wages and budgeting, and the information on employment enables them to understand their rights. Combined, these skills place youth in an informed position to make informed decisions about their life and helps mitigate the risks of uninformed migration.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
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