Helping the youth charter their lives

NEW DELHI SEPT. 21. While the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has set up a core group in order to finalise specific schemes for the adolescent population, the report of the working group on ``adolescents'' set up by the Planning Commission to give inputs to the Tenth Five Year plan provides a valuable situational analysis and an account of the existing policies and major programmes concerning adolescents with possible solutions to the complex situation which cannot be ignored.

``In dealing with adolescents and young adults in India, there exists hardly any specific scheme to take care of them. All the existing schemes are control-centred rather than being empowerment-oriented,'' says U.N.B.Rao of the Urivi Vikram Charitable Trust, one of the principal members of the group. Mr. Rao's work with school dropouts in Raghubir Nagar area of West Delhi has emerged as a model of empowerment for the adolescents.

Through the ``Shakti'' programme, the UVCT has reached out to the adolescent community and provided them life skills - thinking skills, negotiating skills and social skills - helping them charter their own lives and showing them the path to empowerment. "We have made them understand through counselling and career guidance that they are not a waste and that they should visualise their own potential and pursue a realistic goal,'' says Mr. Rao, adding that was precisely what they have done over the past several years through the Shakti programme.

``Adolescents have often been viewed as a group of people with problems, disturbances and rebellion. However, the reality is somewhat different. Wherever positive stimulation and a congenial environment have been provided, adolescents have risen to the occasion and done us proud,'' argues Mr. Rao, adding that through their Prerna programme in schools, they have been able to identify some central concerns of the adolescents. ``Real life education programmes is what they need and their energy must be channelised in the positive direction.''

The UVCT's thrust has, therefore, been on helping adolescents cope with the challenges of life and that, Mr. Rao feels, should be thrust of all Government policies and programmes pertaining to adolescents.

"There have been an over-emphasis on schemes which have bearing on population control. In the recent past, schemes on drug control and HIV/AIDS have gained importance. All these schemes fall short of helping the adolescents deal with the challenges of life.''

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