The Right to Education law in India guarantees free and compulsory schooling to all children up to Grade 8. However, for a variety of reasons (such as distance, cost, access, socio-economic constraints and cultural barriers) many students drop out of school or discontinue their education. This phenomenon is even more pronounced for girls and young women especially in rural areas.
The challenges of re-entering the education system and accessing further learning opportunities are huge, especially for young people who did not finish elementary or secondary school. While India has open schooling opportunities, there is lack of awareness and adequate motivation and support for a student to use open schooling as a way of continuing their education.
Pratham's Second Chance program focuses on providing school drop-outs, especially women, another chance at education. Second Chance aims to support those who could not complete their secondary education. The program focuses on completion of Grade 10, in the hope that this academic certificate would prove useful for the learners and further their opportunities for educational growth and employability. The Second Chance program uses innovative teaching methods, to provide accessible and affordable learning opportunities very close to where the students live. Some of the Second Chance programs are residential and others are non-residential.
Currently, Pratham has Second Chance centres in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.
The Second Chance program prepares and supports students to take the Grade 10 - Secondary Board/Open School examinations. The program runs in two phases. The first phase is called the Foundation Course (FC). When the students first enrol in the program, they go through a Foundation Course as a part of the preparation for the Secondary School exam curriculum. The Foundation course lasts for 3-4 months. It addresses the need to catch up with fundamentals, to enable the student to cope with the syllabus for Grade 10 exams. Subjects like English, Mathematics, Language (State specific), Science/Home Science and Life skills are covered. Assessment in form of a Pre-test, at the onset of FC and Post-test, at the end of FC are conducted to track the learnings levels of the students and their growth during the Course.
After the Foundation course, students move to the Main Course, where they study in an interactive environment that includes discussions, debates and presentations through group learning and peer learning activities.
As part of an effort to improve employability skills, exposure to personal development concepts is provided through vocational courses with modules such as health and hygiene, child care, development and nutrition and digital learning (in selected centres).
Over the years, over 18,000 (27000) students have benefited from Pratham’s Second Chance program. The number of students who appeared for the Board examinations till now are 1,134. 17134 Overall, the pass percentage of students is 75%.
Life Skills refer to a large group of psychosocial and interpersonal skills that promote mental wellbeing that leads to a healthy and productive life. Life Skills are important as they enable individuals, including children and young people, to manage their lives well and stay confident and positive while serving as valuable resources to their friends, families and community.
Pratham’s Life Skills Program started in 2012-13 with its school-based interventions with adolescents and has since expanded across various program areas including Second Chance.
At Pratham, Life Skills activities are offered in addition to the academic subjects like Language, Mathematics, English, etc. It is implemented as a separate module or integrated into teaching of academic subjects or both. There is a curriculum for Life Skills based on our Life Skills Framework. Sessions are designed to cover various competencies included in the framework.
The six main components of Pratham’s Life Skills Framework are as follows:
- Interpersonal Skills
- Problem Solving
- Technical Skills
The framework works as an overall map of life skills; depending on the needs of the target group the module can evolve. The components are interrelated and operate simultaneously. ‘Leadership’ is a composite component and derives heavily from the other components. The last component ‘Technical Skills’ is closely linked with ‘Functional Literacy’.
Pratham’s Life Skills framework has been acknowledged by various National and International bodies and has been also published on the website of Harvard Graduate School. For more information, click http://exploresel.gse.harvard.edu/
The Life Skills module has two components: Classroom Sessions and Community Project. A variety of methods such as group discussions, reflective activities, games, presentations, role-plays and field visits are used. The Community Project is a ‘Problem Solving Group Challenge’, in which the students try to solve a problem in their community by applying skills such as communication, team-work, critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving and more.
The classes are conducted by Pratham Staff who are mostly local youth. They are trained by the National and/or State Resource group for Life Skills. The training typically consists of the following:
- Effective delivery of life skills sessions
- Effective teaching and training skills
- Skills for first-aid counseling
Presently, the Life Skills module is offered in two programs:
- Second Chance Program: Through this program, Pratham helps students, mostly girls and women, who had to drop out of school to complete Grade 10. This program is offered in nine states namely; Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The classes are conducted in Pratham-run community centres. Through the Second Chance Program, Life Skills is offered to 4000 girls, women and boys at some places in a year.
- KGBV Program: In this program, Pratham collaborates with Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas to work with girls from grades 6-8. The program focuses on helping girls develop foundational skills and life skills; and transition to grade 10. This school based program is currently operational in three states; Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand and reaches out to 6000 students annually.
Over the years, various assessment tools have been used for measuring Life Skills. These include written tests, self-assessments, and observation tools among others. The primary purpose of these assessments has been to track the changes in students’, work on other variables such as teacher behaviours and teaching-learning processes, and also help course corrections.
In the last 5 years or more, Life Skills intervention reached more than 52,000 students across 16 states. In 2020-21, approximately 4,000 girls from KGBVs and about 3,500 students from the Second Chance Program were part of the Life Skills interventions.