UNICEF and YuWaah mark World Youth Skills Day; launched #YoungWarriorNXT report on life skills delivery for young people at scale

New Delhi : UNICEF and YuWaah (Generation Unlimited in India) marked World Youth Skills Day with the launch of the #YoungWarriorNXT report in partnership with Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Udhyam Learning Foundation. The launch event saw dignitaries engaging in pertinent conversation on delivering life skills to young people in India at scale. The event was graced by Sh. Sanjay Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, who addressed the event as the Chief Guest, along with Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, Dr. Biswajit Saha, Director, Skill Education and Training, CBSE, Mr. Yasumasa Kimura, UNICEF India Representative a.i., Ms. Geeta Goel, Managing Director – India, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Abhishek Gupta, Chief Operating Officer, YuWaah.

With a long-term vision to mainstream life skills training in the country, YuWaah, UNICEF, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Udhyam Learning Foundation came together in July 2021 to respond to the imperative need to build the life skills of young people in India and initiated the Young Warrior NXT (#YWNXT) programme. At its core, YW NXT aims to equip five lakh adolescents with the relevant life skills to make them employable and future-ready, by galvanizing partnerships with diverse stakeholders and leveraging existing content, technology and human resources in the ecosystem.

A key part of YW NXT was also experimentation and evidence-generation, towards which a sandbox environment was created in year one – to pilot, monitor and evaluate – differentiated models of life skills delivery. To this end, 15 pilot programmes were run with experienced, reputed implementation partners, each unique with respect to the course content, medium of delivery, and level of facilitation. The 15 interventions collectively reached ~88,000 young people across 12 states of India. Alongside, a successful, chat-based learning programme –- Young Warrior NXT FunDoo Mini — was rolled out nationally at scale, to allow asynchronous engagement and learning of life skills from the safety of home, accessed by 500k+ young people.

The #YoungWarriorNXT report – ‘Life Skills Delivery for Young People – Scalable Solutions for India’ captures the programme implementation methodology, data-led findings and recommendations for scale.
The learnings from YW NXT have paved a path forward, having produced an implementation playbook with at least 9 successful delivery model identified, as well as capturing programmatic learnings on delivering life skills in different contexts.  Basis the program, the Report also recommends some key aspects to scaling life skills, highlighting the need to-

  • Integrate life skills into the school curriculum, and therefore, garner support from SCERTs and state resource groups to identify and codify important life skills in each state

  • Invest in the capacity building of teachers, including training on appropriate pedagogical practices and building teacher-aids like codified classroom scripts, assessment tools and teacher-mentor programs

  • Involve parents, family members and community leaders in establishing value proposition, creating accountability, and delivering content to influence on enrolment, engagement, and impact positively

  • Build a common vocabulary for life skills to help converge efforts

  • Create an accessible repository of life skills content, mapped to state-specific adoption frameworks and proficiency levels using standard definitions.

  • Develop and adopt standardised life skills assessment tools, contextualised and relevant to India

Commenting on the launch of the report, Yasumasa Kimura, UNICEF India Representative a.i. said, “For a country like India, with a large youth population, it is important that a holistic approach to education is adopted. Life skill development is a critical component of that approach, training for which should start early on in life. The Young Warrior NXT report brings together much-needed data and evidence on approaches that can be deployed at scale to empower young people and help in the effective delivery of life skills education.”

Ms. Geeta Goel, Country Director – India, Michel & Susan Dell Foundation said, “Twenty-first century life and employability skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, leadership, resilience, and digital literacy are important to bridge the employability gap and are essential for the well-being of young people. For India to truly deliver Life Skills at scale there is an urgent need to integrate these in the school curriculum, and to adopt standardised tools that can measure progress on these skills.”

Abhishek Gupta, Chief Operating Officer, YuWaah said, “Young people, if provided with proper skills and training, can excel in unprecedented ways. To address and understand the reasons behind the skill gap and economic opportunities, we have joined hands with partners to bring forward the #YWNXT report, which not only attempts to find ways across levels of facilitations and access to technology, but also pivots its way towards finding impactful and scalable solutions for life skill delivery.”

YW NXT provides a strong starting point, but there is a need to continue testing innovative models and contributing learnings back for wider ecosystem growth, including measuring the impact of life skill interventions through robust experimental evaluation techniques like randomized control trials (RCTs) can further help understand the magnitude of incremental impact.