The American India Foundation Trust

Their Future Is Our Future

Lead Organization

The American India Foundation Trust

Gurgaon, State of Haryana, India

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Odisha languishes as poor and backward region of India despite its human and natural resources. Adolescents constitute 20% of the population and government has initiated many programs to address needs of this segment. Yet, many challenges remain in the 15-19 age group, only 60% of girls attend school and 64% girls, in 10-19 years, suffer from severe/moderate anemia. This differential for education, health & employability skills increase with age and residential area. Targeted investments in development of adolescents through an interlocking of AIF’s Public Health, Education and Skilling programs, augmented by efforts of the organization's fellowship program, will create a momentum across 6 aspirational districts of Odisha. Engagement with adolescents through the entire spectrum of development is expected to create possibility of reaping benefits of a large and productive workforce. Adopting a bottom-up approach, the proposed solution will demonstrate the efficacy of an integrated approach in holistic development of adolescents.

Problem Statement

In India, adolescents from low-income and marginal families are at a disadvantage due to restricted access to quality health, education and future opportunities. A high percentage of them dropout of the school - Boys take up unskilled jobs to supplement family income and for girls it is the prejudice against educating them, lack of facilities and the compulsion to participate in household work. Currently, an estimated 45 million children are out-of-school and approximately 16.1% of them fall in the 6-18 years age group . In addition to this, educated unemployed youth in the country is 23.7% of a total of 31 million unemployed youth (15-25 years).Early marriage and teenage pregnancies, combined with low health indicators including anaemia, malnutrition, lack of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and general lack of agency to resist familial, peer and societal pressures put the adolescents at an acute disadvantage. India’s demographic dividend is at a high risk of becoming a demographic disadvantage.Odisha, the state proposed for the program, is one of the most backward in India. With 8.2 million adolescents, it is a formidable challenge for the state to address their needs pertaining to health, nutrition, education and livelihoods. Regional and social gaps in the state’s development negatively impacts adolescent population the most, as there is no comprehensive program addressing all the needs of adolescents. In the absence of supportive and unbiased support environment, this critical segment of population is highly unlikely to realize its potential.

Solution Overview

AIF will partner with communities, schools, civil societies and Government to reach out to all adolescents across 6 most backward, also aspirational districts of Odisha. Intensive investments through an integrated approach would bring synergies to programming, benefits of scale, replicability and inter-generational sustainability. Leveraging government and community structures will address needs of adolescents comprehensively and reach out to them in their own environment. Accountability systems will be strengthened to ensure continuous improvement of Health, Education and Employability outcomes and to meet program strategic objectives. Government of India has developed a set of 49 indicators to measure the overall development of a district, under the aspirational districts’ initiative. 21 of these indicators will be used to monitor and evaluate the progress so that synergies with the government policies is developed. Key indicators will be tracked and monitored on a concurrent basis.More than a million adolescents will be directly impacted through the program, making them ready to contribute to the nation’s progress. In addition, a sustainable change is envisaged in the society including parents, community elders, leaders and gatekeepers, and institutions, including schools, local government structures and community health systems. This could be a template for a nation-wide transformation to reap the demographic dividend in India. AIF envisions healthy, educated and skilled adolescents who have the agency to make informed and responsible decisions for their lives and livelihoods.

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