YuWaah! Unleashing the potential of young people in India

UNICEF joins hands with government & young people to take forward Generation Unlimited in India

15 May 2019

“Every single child present here would have a dream for the future,” said UNICEF Representative in India, Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, to a room full of students in New Delhi.

“Realizing these dreams requires an education that develops critical skills in children such as analytical thinking, teamwork and digital literacy. UNICEF’s partnership with AIM seeks to help children think analytically about their rights and find innovative solutions to young people's problems,” Haque explained.

Representative Haque was speaking during an event to formalize the partnership between UNICEF India, the Government’s premier think tank body Niti Aayog, the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the Atal Tinkering Lab (ATLs). 

The focus of the partnership will be on co-creating innovative technological solutions for social problems by and for young people, scaling them up through public or private support and promoting the rights of children and adolescents to information, expression and decision making.  

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India & Mr. Ramanathan Ramanan
Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India & Mr. Ramanathan Ramanan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission sign a letter of intent on 24 April 2019 in New Delhi, India.

The Generation Unlimited partnership brings together actors from various fields and agencies around the overall goal of preparing young people to become productive and engaged citizens, connecting secondary-age education and training to employment and entrenpreneurship. In India, this initiative is called YuWaah which recognises young people’s power and potential.

This is significant as India has an adolescent population of 250 million which is one-fifth of India’s total population and 21 per cent of the global adolescent population. If this generation of young people is prepared for the transition to work, the potential for global progress is unlimited. 

Students from ITL Public School showcase their innovations in the Atal Tinkering Lab.
Students from ITL Public School showcase their innovations in the Atal Tinkering Lab.

To support children in school, UNICEF has launched the first career guidance portal reaching 2.3 million students (grades 9 to 12) in partnership with the Government of Rajasthan in western India.  This portal has a tremendous potential to help students in grades 10 or 12 choose the right career for them as well provide guidance for those who drop out after grade 8. UNICEF is planning to develop a similar web portal in Karnataka in partnership with UNDP which will institutionalize Career Guidance & Counselling Cells (CGCC) within schools to support students in making informed career choices.

To ensure out-of-school children are not left behind, UNICEF India supported the identification of approximately 420,000 out-of-school children thus far in selected districts of six states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal) with the highest burden of out-of-school children. A call for innovative solutions and interventions to reach out-of-school children was issued late last year to identify solutions that had the potential for replication and scale up. On the request of the Department of Education, UNICEF is also evaluating the special training programmes for out-of-school children in their intended objective of mainstreaming out-of-school children in school.

UNICEF India is working with various Ministries of the Government of India in pushing forward Generation Unlimited. UNICEF India is working with the Ministry of Skills in developing a communication strategy and capacity building framework on skill development and livelihood ppportunities in partnership with DFID for 107 aspirational districts in India. Together with UNDP and UNFPA, UNICEF India is partnering with the Ministry of Youth Affairs to strengthen volunteer platforms to raise awareness and prioritize child and youth rights in their agenda.

UNICEF India has built strong political commitment and community support for adolescent empowerment across 13 States in India. In 2018, five million girls and boys gained access to foundational and life skills training through in and out of school groups, career fairs, mentorship and volunteering programmes and flexible learning programmes. UNICEF also assisted three state governments develop cash transfer programmes which incentivize girls’ education and aim to reach over 20 million girls.

UNICEF India is undertaking a scoping study on school to work transition to understand the existing education; technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills system.  This will help review trends in the youth labour force, employment and rates of youth who are neither in education, employment nor training (NEET) and also study trends in education (for children and adolescents in India), vocational education and skills programme and challenges for these programmes.

Additionally, a mapping and analysis of the feasibility, functionality and capacity of existing and potential partners in career counselling, life skills trainings & youth engagement initiatives is being undertaken to help identify proven or promising solutions, models, platforms and partnerships that can be scaled up.  It will enable UNICEF India to catalyse focused partnerships to engage young people in co-creating solutions for challenges faced by them. These efforts will build productive life and work opportunities through a uniquely designed, scalable and sustainable model through sustained and coordinated investments for their empowerment.  

India is making tremendous progress. It imperative we capitalize on the huge demographic dividend in the country and unleash the potential of young people to realize their hopes and dreams.