Quality, equitable, and inclusive education is the foundation to creating sustainable development. Promoting school quality and effectiveness for children belonging to the most socially and economically disadvantaged children has been a core focus of Young Lives India. Insights based on evidence generated related to pre-school education, low-cost private education, skill development (vocational and life skills), and governance of education systems, provide valuable information for practitioners and policymakers.
Young Lives India works with the Ministry and Departments of Education to promote relevant, developmentally and culturally appropriate education, with a focus on learning outcomes and life-skills. Young Lives India provides technical support including, research, tool development, review and (re)design of curricular, capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation.
The SDGs recognise the centrality of young people transitioning to the labour market, equipped with twenty-first-century skills, in order to end poverty, reduce inequality, and promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Over the past 18 years, Young Lives India has gained valuable insights related to educational trajectories, access to higher education, and labour market entry. Specifically, we have been able to explore skills (cognitive, digital, psychosocial, technical) which matter the most for the labour market. The upcoming Round 6 of the Young Lives longitudinal study (2021) and COVID response telephone survey (2020) will provide Young Lives India the opportunity to follow the transition of children from early childhood to adolescence and eventually into early adulthood.
Young Lives India has also been promoting a shared understanding of the 21st Century Skills in the Indian context, that must become the vector of development for the young people and equip them to successfully transition to work and lead productive lives. Young Lives India is a partner in UNICEF’s multi-stakeholder alliance – ‘Generation Unlimited’ called “YuWaah” in India, that is aimed at preparing India’s youth for aspirational work and engage them as active change makers. Young Lives India is co-leading the development of a framework for 21st Century Skills and an action plan for its implementation by all the stakeholders to empower the 200 million youth in India to gain relevant skills for productive lives and the future of work.
Early years are critical to laying a strong foundation for lifelong development. Strengthening early childhood development is considered key to achieving a number of SDGs. Evidence from the Young Lives longitudinal study highlights that investments made during early childhood are both, a foundation for better long-term development and the most efficient point of intervention to lessen the impacts of childhood poverty.
This evidence has informed existing national and state-level policies and has encouraged new effective interventions to provide an enabling environment in which children can survive and thrive. During early childhood, the first 1000 days are particularly critical. Young Lives India, in partnership with UNICEF India has initiated a cross-sectional study to gain an understanding of issues related to the first thousand days of a child’s life. This research study will examine the health and well-being of the children, caregiving practices, parenting approaches as well as access to Government programmes.
Good health and nutrition is an essential foundation for children’s development. Young Lives India’s research highlights that focusing on maternal, neonatal, and infant health (physical and mental) and nutrition must be a policy priority, particularly during the first 1000 days. Notably, Young Lives India evidence also shows that the growth trajectories are not fixed in early childhood. Stunted children can undergo catch-up growth even after the age of 5.
Insights into the patterns of development (and interventions) which may foster more sustained healthy growth and catch-ups have informed NITI Aayog, Central Ministries and State Departments on policy and programme interventions to promote optimal growth of young children.
Life Skills are increasingly being recognized as instrumental in enabling individuals to adapt, reflect, and lead healthy and productive lives. Children, adolescents and youth need a set of abilities, attitudes and socio-emotional competencies to adapt to the unexpected changes and uncertainties in their lives, as well as to learn and lead productive lives, especially in the changing dynamics of learning as well as employment.
Young Lives India is working with multilateral and bilateral organizations to promote a shared understanding of Life Skills in the Indian context, and to create synergies in the practices of government for implementation and measurement of Life Skills. Young Lives India has undertaken situational analysis of implementation of life skills education, and has developed framework and measurement tools for assessment of Life Skills amongst children and adolescents, and has been building capacities of education functionaries on implementation and assessment of Life Skills.
Young Lives India believes that child protection is at the heart of any programming and policy intervention for promoting children’s well-being. Young Lives India focuses on (i) research and policy intervention, and (ii) monitoring and evaluation of programmes related to protection of children (child labour, child marriage and teenage pregnancy, and child trafficking). Young Lives India’s evidence suggests when, where and how risk and protective factors manifest in children’s lives. These key insights have informed the Ministry of Women and Child Development’s five-year vision documents.
Young Lives India is a technical partner of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on issues related to child protection and supports the Commission to combat child marriage and teenage pregnancy. Young Lives India has prepared several knowledge products on child marriage and teenage pregnancy using national data sets.
Young Lives India defines poverty as ‘multidimensional poverty’ rather than only monetary poverty. There is an underlying belief that poverty and deprivation are intrinsically interlinked, and severe deprivation in basic needs such as access to food, water, sanitation, health, shelter, education, information, and basic services results in poverty.
Young Lives India is a thought-leader in the domain of poverty and inequality, and as part of the Young Lives longitudinal study has undertaken primary research related to childhood poverty since 2002. The research undertaken by Young Lives India has brought to the attention of policymakers the adverse long-term effect and impact of childhood poverty on the well-being of future generations.
The exclusion of persons with disabilities poses a challenge with respect to the realization of the SDGs, and Young Lives India’s research writing highlights this. Despite the increasing policy attention to promote inclusive education, children with disabilities remain excluded ‘from and within schools’. As an organisation, Young Lives India stands for celebrating diversity.
Young Lives India is a proponent of the social model of disability and has been undertaking systemic capacity building for effective inclusion of students with diverse needs in schools and classrooms. Young Lives India, in partnership with DFID, is undertaking a qualitative research study to explore the educational trajectories and labour market transition of young people with disabilities.
Young Lives India has been studying migration, particularly within the context of childhood poverty and inequality. The research studies highlight the pattrens and drivers of migration of children, and the consequences of migration on well-being of children.
Indepth analysis from Young Lives India researches has revealed disparate and diverse reasons for migration, by location (rual/urban), gender and age. These insights have informed policy and programmatic interventions that target young migrants’ well-being.