CFCA stories

Delhi youth forum provides platform for students' future

June 19, 2013

Many students in Delhi, India are taking the 'next step' in achieving their dream by pursuing a higher education. Through support and encouragement, the Delhi youth forum members are making their education a top priority.

Delhi youth forum members
Delhi youth forum members gathered at Allahabad subproject office.
These students gather to stand up for the importance of their education.

The CFCA-organized youth forum in Delhi provides students with a platform to determine what they want in their life and consider continuing their education while they re-examine the cultural tradition of marriage after high school.

"The youth forum empowers youth not to step down because of economic constraints," said Vinod Kumar Dass, CFCA project coordinator in Delhi. "If they have the ability, knowledge and power, they should continue to grow and study. This is our main objective."

In India many families practice arranged marriages when the youth turns 18. A study by the Population Council shows that many girls are married even younger. Marriage brings great family responsibilities, making it uncommon for newlyweds to continue their education.

Aushi, youth forum member
Youth forum member, Aushi, records the minutes
during the meeting.

Besides the cultural pressure to marry, families also are unable to afford education and university expenses, resulting in marriage being the only 'next step' option to provide support for their child.

Through the youth forum, more than 350 sponsored students meet to discuss issues related to education. The members deposit 50 rupees (about $1) of their own money into a savings account every time they meet. This money, along with funds from CFCA's scholar program, is put in an account and members are able to take out loans from this account to pay for their higher education expenses.

The savings program serves as a teaching tool for the members to learn money management and financial planning for the future. Many families also work hard to contribute what they can to their children’s education.

Students can join the forum when they turn 14 and remain members until they complete their education. Although the majority of the members are girls, many boys also participate in the youth forum.

Learning and preparing the teens for leadership in their communities and future workplaces are the keys to the youth forum's success. The senior students in the youth forum provide personalized counseling and guide the younger members in their academic and career goals. In addition, the forum also provides training on vocational courses focused on the interests of the group.

Pooja, Diksha, and Nagma studing together
From left: Pooja, Deeksha and Nagma study together during a youth forum
meeting. Through these meetings, students learn beneficial skills that
give them an upper-hand during job interviews.

"The youth forum also gives the students the opportunity to get involved in project activities, such as conducting group meetings and workshops," said Dass. "Through that, they can really develop their management skills. It strengthens their perspective as well as allows them to become good presenters.

"When they become good presenters, they can articulate and when they need to appear for job interviews, they can present very well."

The Delhi youth forum began in 2009, and because of their commitment and determination to their personal goals, many students in Delhi have education as a 'next step' option.