By-K.L.Khanna ,Jt. Directo, NYKS, MoYSA, GOI , New Delhi, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan – work on the young aspirations of India, Adolescence, Adolescents and their Socialization:-
In the life of a human being, stage of adolescence, i.e. the period of his age between 10 to 19 years represents most romantic time when he enters into adulthood through various mental and physical changes; when he understands, chooses and adopts various behaviour structures; and when he passes through a very crucial second phase of self-empowerment. His acquisition of the first language (say mother tongue) is complete by the time he enters the phase of adolescence. As was suggested by Noam Chomsky, the urge and faculty of acquisition of a language is innate in human beings. That faculty provides to him the first step towards self-empowerment. Adolescence represents that age in every human being when the child wants to discover for himself more of life, the secrets of life and of relationships. Through the first language, he acquires understanding, meaning and articulation of basic symbols, sounds, perceptions and structures. With these faculties he develops a power for himself that facilitates him to explore the world within and outside himself. This sense of power leads him to know the meaning of his growth, or it leads to create curiosity about his body, its transformation, about the meaning of sex and sexual faculties, and a certain vision about life-however concrete or vague that may be depending upon the level and kind of socialization that he gets within his family, in neighbourhood, with his peer group, teachers and others he chooses to or is compelled to interact with.
Years and time of adolescence mark also the period of his life, when the adolescent experiments and (depending upon his education, socialization and self- regulation) decides to take or not to take any risk. He may face a certain type of pressure from his family, from his siblings and from the peer groups which may or may not be according to the larger choices of his life, or good for him in the generally accepted ways.
Contrary to a general belief that the age of adolescence is full of challenges and problems, we believe that this age is the most idealistic one which accepts most ideas without any problem. The basic strength of adolescence lies in the fact of inquiry and discovery that the age lends to the boy or the girl. The adults throw challenges or problems on adolescents. Adolescents only find them out.
Another important aspect of adolescence is that of intense socialization that takes place in this age of the boys and girls. The socialization defines, lends and helps the adolescents in forming certain behaviour structures. They gain knowledge and information that always begins as news to them and fills in them charm and happiness of discovery. Networking of relationships and understanding of his place in this network further accentuates his understanding of multiple role structure and his status within the family, the community and peer group. The adolescent, with every passing day in his life, progressively feels empowered. This sense of power,-a self-generating capability through a continuous process of socialization, education and networking in the relationships, helps the adolescent to develop aspirations which if cultivated well by further socialization can lead to the formation of a life vision, aptitude recognition and career choice.
Adolescence is the most romantic age that is full of passion for life; that is adoring and idealistic in content, and loving in nature. The distant stars appear quite close when the steeds of aspirations run on the fecund mind of imagination and resources. What, at times, turns it quixotic from dreamy is the attitude of the adults and the direction that the environment provides to the growing child turning into an adult. In the right environment of learning about life, the dreams have the capacity to turn into a vision, and the desire to discover into right answers to him.
With the right faculties of guidance and acculturation through parents, teachers, peer group or by self-assessment, the adolescent finds himself on the path of self-empowerment every day; in their absence he may falter; he may give wrong direction to his curiosity, experimentation and choices. It is here, in such a situation that one needs to take precautions after asking questions like :-
Do we, the adults, provide right environment of learning to our growing children?
Is the socialization of our children in right direction and adequate in its contents?
Are the children capable of making right choices with the right equipment of knowledge, information and networking of social relationships?
Are they forming their personality in the manner of making a self-guiding and self-empowering process of growing and coping with the challenges of the world?
This document relates to these macro-questions but in a particular programme of the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs. The programme relates to networking rural adolescents into small groups that we choose to call TEEN CLUBS.
The tiny teen clubs will not answer all the above questions fully; but they would certainly provide a direction of right socialization by the community and the family to the adolescent member. And that is the purpose.
c. The Adolescent Population in India and challenges it poses:-
According to the census 2001, there are 225 million (22 crore 50 lakh) adolescents in the country. Together they make one-fifth (i.e. 21.8%) of the total population of India. There is however a positive tilt towards male population. Girls make up only 47 percent of the total adolescent population. The decline in the female population has progressed over the last ten years. Between the census 1991 and census 2001, the sex ratio has dropped steeply from 890 to 858 in the age group of 15 to 19 years, although there was no decline in the age group of 10 to 14 years. This decline calls for special attention to the health and development aspects of young girls.
The adolescent today will be the youth tomorrow. It is rightly predicted in the Human Resource report 2007 that the youth population- subsequent to the adolescent population- in India will progressively increase or remain dominant till 2035 keeping India the youngest country in demographic terms and challenges.
This demographic feature of India’s adolescent and youth population poses certain challenges for the present and the future. This feature rings a bell of caution and care for the adolescents today so that the youth of tomorrow and the dominant population of India tomorrow grows in the right ways of their education- informal and formal; parental care, community care and remains healthy by making right choices about their personal habits; and by having access to the health institutions which the country and the society ought to create for them at the right places.
d. Adolescents’ issues, strengths, opportunities and what the community of adults must do for them:-
We often come across cautionary lines of fear and concerns in different literature for adolescent development (specially emanating from international and national NGOs), such as:
“If we look at the current scenario, it is found that the young people in the age group of 10 to 19 years are finding it difficult to cope up with the emerging challenges in their day to day life associated with the environment in which they live and which have also got direct bearing on their personality development and career-making. The allurements of modern life-style and high-risk behaviour make them more susceptible to HIV/AIDS. The problem of identity crisis as perceived by them makes them prone to indulge in criminal acts. The prevailing uncertainty towards life and career is so pressing that many of the adolescents are bound to lose their hope and become juvenile. The anti-social and anti-national elements are all out to take full advantage this situation as many of the adolescent are misguided and allured to lead a life full of indulgence, crime and inflicting terror in society.”
“The “Making one Billion Count” report of the United Nations Population Fund cautions that the world is now home to the largest generation of adolescents in history. Of the global population counting 6.3 billion people, 1.2 billion are between the ages of 10 and 19- with many facing the risks of disease, unwanted pregnancy and poverty. HIV/AIDS has emerged as one of the greatest threats to adolescents; this age group now accounts for half of all new cases of the diseases. Alarmingly, every 14 seconds a young person between the ages of 15 and 24 becomes infected………….The rate of new infections is also growing rapidly in many other countries including India. Discussing sexual behaviour is a taboo in many countries; as a result, many young people do not know how to protect themselves”
“The situation of teen age girls and boys are more critical as they easily become victims of human trafficking. Likewise, the Adolescents who come from low social and economic background and live in rural areas are objected to extreme conditions of discrimination and deprivation to a great extent. In nut shell, the existing adolescent population in the country is beset with the problems of early marriage, female mortality, poor quality education in rural areas, girl child education, child labour, malnutrition, drug abuse, crimes against them, delinquent behaviour, trafficking and sex work, risk of HIV infection and disability.”
We would take these statements as valid, though not uniformly applicable in equal measure throughout India. Most of these “problems” are the manifestation of lack of strength on part of large populations of individuals to cope with the existential requirements of living, and therefore, relate to the dislocation or the inadequate providence of entitlements within the society. Entitlements to the vast masses on health, education, food and participation. However there are others, which are a part of the tradition that goes against the modernizing trends of society. Early age marriage of boys and girls, or child marriage in certain pockets of the country is a scourge that poses challenges to the health, education and empowerment of the affected adolescents. Similarly, the customs of making it imperative for the parents of the girl child to get her less education, to treat her less than equal to the boys in the family, to get the girl child lesser food; or above all to treat the female child before or after the birth as the unwanted burden for the family. Killing the child in womb is the most sinful act according to the same tradition whose reference the parents make to form imperatives of different kinds. Tradition therefore is only being used selectively in certain pockets of Indian society as a matter of convenience or as a source of legitimacy of the adult acts. So, it is not always the tradition or modernity that forms the anvil to hammer out a behaviour structure, but the logic of economy or the poverty as such but which is presented and talked about in the community through a logic of bad faith in practice labelled as tradition. But these customs are part of adult behaviour or the community behaviour and not of the children (born or unborn) or the adolescents who are affected by these.
There are rural parents who do not want to send their girls to the school. But even when they want to send them, along with, or like their sons, the education lacks mostly in quality and amount. This is a case of Lack of proper education for the girls and boys in rural areas. This education is not being considered quality education by the larger section of Indian civil society, and it does not yield much in terms of finding jobs for the takers of such education. Trafficking of the girl child or women for sexual abuse or prostitution; alluring the young/ adolescents towards drug use and abuse; incest and sexual abuse of the girl child in the village community; sodomy of the boys etc. are those practices which work fiercely and forcefully in different measures but across the class and caste categories in society. These practices do not form part/s of any tradition or any custom and therefore cannot be justified by anyone through them; and they therefore remain under cover. These are only the social and judicial crimes. But the problem remains not only to the extent of their being unlawful. They give birth to different contexts, which can even turn historically significant. All the practices given above in this paragraph cause spread of HIV and AIDS along with other sexually transmitted diseases. Context of HIV and AIDS has become historically important for human society at the global as well as the local levels. Multi-pronged strategies are being worked out to put a stop to these practices. One of the strategies is to mitigate or end the vulnerability of adolescents by providing to them extra socialization of life skills, knowledge about human reproductive system, information about human physiology and its functioning, and information about health and nutrition in general. Life Skills form the most important component of extra socialization in an intervention strategy.
e. Peer group formation or the Teen Club-
Value addition to the strengths of adolescents:-
Along with knowledge and information for the adolescents goes re-strengthening of their relationships within the family, community and their peer groups. Re-strengthening of relationships is necessary, rather it is basic to achieve the ends of teaching life skills to the adolescents because of the following factors:-
a. No personality-specific skill can flourish and get totally internalised unless that forms a considered part of a recurring behaviour structure;
b. There has to be ample antecedent, space and opportunity for the expression of newly acquired behaviour which would manifest the learning of life skills and the resultant attitude, outlook and perception sensitivity;
c. Togetherness within a group, especially when it is formed with a particular group objective, creates an empowering force among the participants getting which the fulfilment of a particular behaviour. Teaching life skills to individuals and then leaving them alone to sort out their personality issues is one thing to do for the intervening agent; but training them all on these issues and then creating a platform of togetherness for them puts them in a process of transformation of their individual personalities for the desired results.
d. In the ABC of behaviour; A is the Antecedent (reason, urge, or cause), B is the Behaviour, and C is the Consequence (of behaviour that justifies the behaviour). Larger the gap between B and C, smaller will be the force of A for repeating the behaviour. Conversely, smaller the gap between B and C, larger will be the effect of behaviour in its consequence, and larger are the chances for repeating the behaviour. If the behaviour is the desired one, and that is initiated to be adopted, then it is absolutely essential that A should get rooted in the thinking process of the subject so that it is repeated and it forms a permanent device within him as the personality trait. It is therefore necessary that there should be ample reasons and opportunities for the new learner to have real or ersatz consequences of his newly adopted behaviour as a result of the learning of life skills. Example: Suppose, B (behaviour) is that of eating. It’s a (antecedent) would be the urge to eat, or hunger. C should be the satisfaction that one gets after eating. This is pretty easy because this kind of behaviour is directly related to the strong surviving urge and need. Now, for the prohibitive kinds of behaviour like: Not succumbing to the peer pressure, or not accepting a tobacco stick etc.; or for the prescriptive kinds of behaviour like: washing hands before eating etc., the new learner of the desired behaviour may not have any immediate C (consequence) of his behaviour to make him feel that the new behaviour is needed to be repeated as strongly as the one against the antecedent of hunger! In such cases, it is essential for the intervening agent to form associative links for the subject. One way of doing it in our context of crystallizing life skills and turning awareness about RCH into positive and practical behaviour structures among adolescents is to provide them an opportunity and reason for adopting and to sustain the behaviour. The key: Turn the new behaviour into a tool of self-empowerment !! And as we have defined, one most important tool of empowerment is the formation and sustenance of new relationships. It is evident. Alumni of an elite educational institution, even without forming an association, get to help each other in every circumstances thereby creating abounding confidence among them as soon as they enter the institution for the degree. Phrases like “Same school tie”, or “with me in college” create a port key for the person to get transported into the domain of mutual liking (…..and even admiration). In practical reality, they form an informal club of mutual support within the club-contexts of admission into the walls of exclusivity. Coming back to our small time occupation of teaching and sustaining life skills with a band of out-of-school adolescents in a village, we need to know how the behaviour entailing the learning of life skills and ARSH is going to form a way of becoming empowerment through new relationships. But in the beginning, there has to be a mechanism of bringing them together. A way and the reality of the formation of a club. And the club will have to show glimpses of opportunities that will keep the process of empowerment intact. Let us put the band of adolescents together in the village and call the small group Teen Club. There could be other ways of turning the desired behaviour into a tool of empowerment, like: attaching incentives to the fulfilment of a desired behaviour. Someone gave a banana to each adolescent whose hands were clean before lunch in Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s youth camp at Pondicherry, sometime back. Or making the new behaviour a recurring theme of discussion among the participants, till it acquires the normal linguistic pattern, or till it gets routinized. In other words, having certain activities within the fledgling club will re-enforce the process of socialization and empowerment, which will complement each other.
It is thus presumed that the adolescents, thanks to their age; tender and flexible behaviour formation faculty; magic-bouncing curiosity and capacity to discover, learn and generalize; have enormous scope of empowerment if/when put in an environment where protection, growth and socialization converge on the issues of adolescent health, life skills and guidance for life planning and career formation. In the village community, the institution that is most instrumental in socializing an adolescent is family and the neighbourhood. Then comes the school. We add another dimension to this programme of socialization by providing a forum for connectedness, group discussion and establishing relationships for learning together. This forum will be called TEEN CLUB.
2. MISSION STATEMENT:-
Rationale behind formation of a teen club is given in the previous chapter. The mission of the formation of a series of teen clubs in 63 districts of the pilot with NYKS will have a progressively advancing approach. Whereas 20 teen clubs were formed in 2007-08 in each one of the two Blocks in all 63 districts; ten more are to be added in 2008-09. Similarly, there will be a successive addition of teen clubs in the coming years. The mission statement in regard of this movement is:-
Teen clubs are formed by NYKS in its pilot project for the development and empowerment of rural adolescents, especially those who are not going to the school, so that they find a forum for group activities, group learning, and self-empowerment.
The route and strategy of empowerment through the teen clubs calls for establishing relationships within the community, learning life skills and practising them through peer interaction and with the trainers and counsellors; so that with these activities the participating members can generate and grow power within themselves for making right choices and right designs in their individual lives. So that the power within them acts as a self-motivating device for creating desired behaviour that would remove or mitigate their vulnerability against their physical contacts with or use of drugs, unsafe sex, or sex before marriage, or against occurrences of life that need to be faced and tackled boldly with a clear sense of creating space desired by them in future.
3. OBJECTIVES OF FORMING TEEN CLUBS:–
Eventual goal of the Adolescent development and empowerment programme of the Ministry of Youth Affairs is to equip the adolescent with certain personality skills by which they can have knowledge, information and capacity to cope with the challenges posed in society because of the prevalence of various social evils like drug abuse, sexual advances towards adolescents by the adults, gender bias, and many times- absence of choice mechanism. A Teen Club, as said above is visualised to be one forum, which has the potential to form a village-based institution. The forum can provide space and opportunity or a series of opportunities and training to the participating adolescents for honing their individual strengths that would help them in generating and growing power for themselves to make right choices in their life.
Specifically, the Teen Clubs are formed to achieve following objectives:-
3.1. A Teen Club will function as a forum for extra socialization of its members through an intensive and meaningful interaction with their peers, trainers, counsellors, parents and elder members of the youth community in the village. Extra socialization (ES) is that communicational and interactive process of a youngster which he undergoes in the natural setting of his growing up within the family, neighbourhood or a forum that is specially created for this purpose. The process of socialization aims to fill up those gaps of information and conformable imperatives of behaviour which are necessary for the youngster to receive which have hitherto been missed by him in the family, neighbourhood or the school, but which are necessary for him to get in order to keep pace with the world. Unlike training which is amoral and impersonal in its content, extra socialization involves the participant in a fresh understanding of values, norms and social and individual behaviour.
3.2. Certain activities are needed to be performed in the teen club for augmenting participation of the members for sustaining the group so that the club acquires certain institutional form and nature;
3.3. To teach the teen members life skills for improving their personality to acquire and consolidate certain behaviour/s in protecting oneself against drug abuse, unsafe sex, rather protecting oneself with a sense of responsibility with the acquisition of scientific values about their role within the institution of family before and after marriage;
3.4. To prepare the teen members of the teen club for joining the local youth club after they attain the age of 19 years and they qualify as youth after their adolescence, in that the teen club shall have made its members fully aware and responsible youth in terms of self-management, self-health care, and willing partnership with the members of their ex-teen club and the youth club that they join afresh after coming of age.
3.5. Practice of extra socialization of the members of a teen club will entail:-
3.5.1. Interaction facility within the peer group for improving their social and negotiation skills within and outside the family;
3.5.2. Creation of a safe space for adolescents to discuss issues that concern them, and to empower them to work together to explore solutions;
3.5.3. Mentoring of the members through their peer educators;
3.5.4. Access of information to the members on gender, reproductive and sexual health, life skills, career opportunities, current events etc.
3.5.5. Promotion of sensitive, non-judgmental and confidential health sources for adolescents, including reproductive and sexual health counselling either through direct service delivery or through referral and follow up;
3.5.6. Approbation of the parents, the community and society at large towards the education and value orientation that the members will receive even on what the local community at times considers to be very sensitive issues like education on the RCH and the scientific methods to impart that, especially when the parents and members of the community are involved in the management of the teen clubs. Hence one objective of the teen clubs is to keep it well connected to the parents and the community.
3.5.7. The community orientation of the teen clubs will ensure good opportunities to the members for their recreation, leisure, artistic and cultural expression;
3.5.8. Sports and game culture among the members of the teen clubs; especially when these activities form a regular part of the running of the teen club.
4. FORMATION AND SUSTENANCE OF THE TEEN CLUB:-
Nehru Yuva Kendras will form Teen Clubs in agreement and in collaboration with the village communities included in the project. Their number in the administrative Block/s and the district/s will be decided by the funding agencies including the Ministry and the UNFPA.
4.1. People responsible to form teen clubs in the district:-
a. District Youth Coordinator,
b. Project Officer, if any,
c. One or two National Service Volunteers specially assigned for this project,
d. Adolescent peer Volunteers, if any,
e. One or two members of DART if they volunteer to be in the process.
4.2. Teen Club and the Youth Club:-
a. It is not compulsory, and always necessary that the Teen Club should always be a part of the existing Youth Club in the village where the NYK decides to form a teen club.
b. In a village where there is no teen club and no youth club either; their it would be necessary to form the Teen Club first.
c. The teen club will be an independent body and shall not constitute a part of the youth club or a CBO in the village, though members of the CBO etc. can be incorporated in the governance of the teen club.
4.3. Following imperatives will govern the process of Teen Club formation:-
There shall be an initial meeting of the teen –club- formation- team and the village community in which the subject of the need of establishing a teen club shall be explained. The talk will be based on following main points:-
a. Socialization of teenagers in the family – parents do their job well;
b. Need for the extra socialization in the face of new cultural, economic and social forces that demand more attention to the teenagers in terms of their vulnerability, their strengths which should not go haywire in the absence of proper guidance and care for their growth, their health, personality formation, education and career building;
c. Parents should volunteer to form a club of their teenagers and give a name to the club;
d. Parents of all the teen club members shall form an advisory body for the teen club. They shall have an advisory role. The Parents’ Advisory Committee or the Abhibhavak Salahkar Samiti shall meet once a month in the presence of the DPO and all members of the teen club.
e. There shall be one boys’ wing, and one girls’ wing of the same teen club;
f. There shall be an initial meeting of the teen club members (all in the list) and the Parents’ Advisory Committee (PAC) where the DPO will talk about the necessity, objectives and the way of working of the teen club. The teen club is formed. The teen club shall then nominate one boy and one girl to be the Teen Club Representative. There shall be formed one governing body of the teen club which will have the following office bearers:-
f.1. President of the local youth club/CBO shall nominate himself/herself or an educated member of the Youth Club to function as the president of the teen club.
f.2. One boy and one girl out of the total membership of the teen club shall be elected by the male and female members of the teen club to be their representative. Each one of them will be called teen club representative. They should necessarily be of the age group between 16 and 18.
f.3. The DPO or the YC shall function as the chief advisor of the teen club. S/he will choose and nominate two members (one boy and one girl) to function as Peer Educators. Peer Educators are expected to be the most sensitive and educated boys and girls of the teen clubs whose comprehension and delivery of information should be of superior order. In case there are not many such adolescents, one or both the representatives can also function as peer educators. Peer educators shall also be the members of governing body.
f.4. Every member of the teen club who comes of age, i.e. completes 19 years of age automatically ceases to be the member of the club and joins the youth club or the CBO in the village, if there is one in the village. (But there should be a youth club in the village).
Governing body of the teen club
4.4. Functions of the Governing body:-
The governing body will be responsible for sustaining the teen club after it is initially formed. It will therefore have the following functions :-
4.4.1.Parents body will essentially meet periodically to review the activities of the teen club;
4.4.2.The President, in consultation with the Parents’ Advisory Committee (PAC) will form quarterly action plan for the activities of the Teen Club;
4.4.3. The governing body shall see to it that there are regular activities in the teen club. Following activities are compulsory in nature;-
a. Weekly meeting of the teen club;
b. Daily games- outdoor and indoor, whatever is possible;
c. Weekly meeting with parents in which useful discussions on topics related to life skills, nutritional needs and easy ways of fulfilling those, Adolescent reproductive and Child Health (ARSH), HIV/AIDS, common diseases and how to avoid them, personal hygiene, sanitation etc. The discussion can be launched and moderated by the DPO of the district NYK, National Service Volunteer (NSV), the President of the teen club, the representatives, the Peer Educators or one of the parents.
d. Wall Magazine. All members of the teen club shall be encouraged to raise a wall magazine in the village; which will be done on a wall provided by the PAC either inside a room or outside that.
e. Cultural programme- once a month, for which there shall be a wide range and scope of participation by all members of the teen club.
4.4.4. Following activities are to be conducted in collaboration with the
a. Some useful training related to educational, personality improvement, skill development, health and counselling etc. should be organized periodically, i.e. at least once in six months for some members of the teen club;
b. Visit of certain resource persons who can give training in different subjects mentioned in para a. above, should be arranged to the teen club periodically by different stakeholders so that the programme of extra socialization of the members of the teen club should go on continuously.
c. There should be some field visit for members of the teen clubs in the district. It may not be possible to involve members of all the teen clubs in the district in such an activity, but such programmes should be made as much as possible.
5. INDICATORS OF SUCCESSFUL SUSTENANCE OF A TEEN CLUB OR THE CLUBS IN A DISTRICT:-
As every teen club will organize a number of programmes and activities round the year in a planned manner, the success will broadly depend on following programme indicators:
• Total number of programmes and activities organized in the month, the quarter and the year;
• Total number of participants in each programme and activity with particular reference to SC/ST, OBC, Minority, Male & Female, disabled persons etc.
• Strict compliance of the reporting system as devised by the Adolescent Section of the NYKS HQs;
• Documentation of case studies about different trainings, individual club events, individual teen club members, certain research reports published or released by collaborating agencies;
• Volunteering of parents/ stake holders in the community for adding any value to the teen club/ peer group etc. This will show the successful nature of parent-teenagers interaction and sustenance of the club;
• Voluntary running of certain special trainings, skill development effort etc.
• General impression of the parents/ stake holders/ government officials who visit the clubs or the village/ peoples’ representatives etc. about the club;
• Finally, whether the club acquires the nature of an institution, in that whether the club acquires a life of its own that it may perpetuate itself over the years without any help from outsiders!
6. WHAT WILL THE MEMBERS OF TEEN CLUB DO AFTER THEY COME OF AGE?
A teen club is formed of future youth. After a member acquires the age of 19, s/he will join the local youth club.