"There is always one moment in childhoodwhen the door opens and lets the future in."
"The Power and the Glory", Graham Greene
New Zealand as a nation focuses a great deal on developing a knowledge economy. However, statistics and research data on education tells a very different story. According to the reports released by the Ministry of Education, in New Zealand, each year around 10,000 students leave school without any formal qualification. Census shows that in the age group of 15- 18 years, at least 25% of the population is without any school qualification. There is still a considerable lack of current data at the national level on the number of students who leave school and simply fall through the cracks.
The number of students under 16, who have been granted exemptions to leave school, has risen from 3% in the early nineties to 32% in the last few years. Maori students form between 36 - 39% of all school leavers' population without any qualification. The statistics also reveal a growth in the unemployment and crime rate due to an increase in illiteracy. Amongst the people who receive unemployment benefit, around 30-40% is without any school qualification.
In the Auckland region, last year around 1400 people under 17 years were convicted for being involved in drugs, drinking alcohol and other offences. Almost 540 students were suspended from schools and around 42% of these were due to use of drugs and other substance abuse.
There is a growing need to focus on education, health and welfare issues. A recent report in December 2009 reported allocation of a $16 million budget over the next four years to rescue 30,000 teenagers from truancy and crime. Justice Minister Simon Power and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples have revealed plans to tackle the "drivers of crime". Under the plan, the Ministry of Education will support behavior working group in the management of truancy, violence in schools, and school dropouts.
Based on the statistics and an analysis of the social state, we identified the need to have a program for the youth in middle and high school dropout segment. The organization aims to provide a safe place for the youth where they will be encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities and will be provided a healthy snack, a recreational centre and a vocational training centre. This initiative will help reduce crime and the opportunity to indulge in drugs, alcohol and sex for teenagers. The organization will foster partnerships with local schools and the youth court system. YES's goal is to cultivate a culture of assurance to youth that willendorse pro-social friendships andreasserta sense of hope in the future. Strong interpersonal skills and relationships can reinforce a sense of individual responsibility which will give youth the motivation to tread on the path to adulthood with good judgment and a sense of pride and achievement.
Due to repeated unsuccessful attempts at formal education and an easy lure of destructive habits, such adolescents do not have any faith in the opportunities available to them. They need to be introduced to a learning environment where they feel cared for and that recognizes their efforts and gives them the respect they desire. Teenagers who will participate in these programs are more likely to the benefits of higher education and vocational training.
The program will be supported by individual and corporate funding, government grant and other community fund-raising activities. It will be a non-profit organization which will not discriminate on the basis of religion, race or gender. One of the goals is to involve the youth in the development of the programs and use their inputs to design further programs where they not only benefit but also want to implement and participate in the programs. They will be offered mentor roles to increase their involvement in the programs and create a sense of belonging. In the due course of time, YES will create a culture and a safe environment of support and respect that will be a priceless opportunity for the youth in particular and the community at large.
Commitment, Respect, Responsibility and Possibility - These words summarize our vision for the youth.
Our aim is to educate, engage and support the next generation of New Zealand on their journey towards a better future.
YES is being set up to offer support for school dropouts as well as youth offenders in the Auckland region. The aim is to create partnerships with the schools, youth courts and the community groups with a special focus on the lower socio - economic population. The initial target is to have a minimum of 50 students per day attending our programs. This would include, group and individual mentorship programs. Our short- term goal is to involve students from high school to participate in out mentor training programs and the long term goal is to expand our network to the suburbs including opening multiple facilities by tying up with community centers. This would help us in growing and sustaining the programs.
The four main objectives are:
- To rehabilitate school dropouts by providing them basic education and vocational training
- To engage with youth court system and provide mentorship/educational/vocational education to youth convicts
- To increase awareness about need for education/govt. programs
- To bring together govt. organizations, NGO's and corporate in a coherent manner, so as to increase program effectiveness
Key Performance Indicators
- Enrollment of at least 10% of the school drop-outs from the middle and high school in the first year and increase it to 15-20% by the end of second year.
- Enrollment of at least 10% of the youth involved in youth courts.
- Success and satisfaction rate of 80%.
- Provision of scholarships to high performing students in their chosen area of training.
- Reduction in crime, violence and drug abuse cases in the younger generation.
- The intelligence, talent and abilities of the youth must be respected.
- Every School dropout should be given an opportunity to rehabilitate by completing education and undergoing vocational training.
- Govt., NGO's, community and corporate together should contribute to address the problem of uneducated youth.
- The society should keep the youth safe from violence and criminal activities.
- The families and community should provide support to affected youth to integrate them in the society and make them a valuable part of the social system.
- We need to provide a secure base and a safe learning environment from where our youth can discover life as an adventure and their creativity gets an expression.
New Zealand has a resident population of just over 4 million people. 25% of the total population is aged 16 or under. According to the last census, 86% of the New Zealanders lived in urban areas out of which 29% lived in the Auckland urban region. This number is increasing rapidly with the trends showing internal migration from South to North and from rural to urban areas.
The greatest opportunity of this initiative is that there are not too many programs like this in Auckland for middle and high school students who discontinue education. The various organizations that are involved in similar projects do not tie up with the youth courts and schools together. A large percentage of the school drop-outs never pursue any vocational training or higher education. There is also an opportunity to identify the at-risk students currently enrolled in schools and to prevent them from falling into the trap of crime and abuse. YES aims to provide a holistic platform for such youth.
According to the report titled Youth Justice Statistics in New Zealand by the Ministry of Justice in New Zealand, trends show the highest rate of crime in the 14-16 and 17-20 age groups. The rate for violent offences peaked for the population aged 14 to 16.
Courtesy: Ministry of Justice (http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/)
Strengths and Benefits
YES programs will inculcate a sense of independence in the youth.
A sense of belonging and commitment for the middle and high school students and mentoring leadership program.
It will provide a reassurance to the parents that their children are being supported in a safe environment and with respect.
Since the programs come at no cost, it will attract participants from all income levels.
Initiative Work Plan
YES will be run as a non-profit organization to serve the community. In the early stages, the programs will take place in the community centers and parks, playgrounds and sports fields. Programs will be run by the YES staff and volunteers. We will also invite the school teachers and universities to participate in our programs and encourage them to pledge their time for training and coaching our youth. We would be providing transport to the needy students and make use of shared resources. A major component of these programs would be to put young people in leadership positions and using their skills appropriately. The participants will design the programs and implement them which will in turn provide mentorship opportunities and an increased sense of belonging. These opportunities will provide self-esteem along with job skills.
The participants will be encouraged to identify their interests and get trained. Vocational training programs will be centered on utilizing the vast resources in New Zealand. The participants will be offered training in agriculture, fishing, computers, coastal activities and other such opportunities identified from time to time. Trainers, mentors and youth will agree to meet for 15-20 hours per week for a full year. In addition, we will have monthly meetings with mentors to identify any ongoing training needs for the participants. We will also have an effective monitoring system to protect the mentor and youth.
The target group is the middle and high school dropouts and the youth courts. The programs will be promoted using written communication like newsletters and pamphlets. There will be fun activities and campaigns including local competitions. Word of mouth awareness and publicity will be the biggest promotional tool as this is a community initiative. We will also involve the schools to create awareness for the available programs. YES aims to fulfill the unmet needs in the community and to provide a safe place for the youth to find a direction in their lives, where they are encouraged to become a part of the mainstream society and keep away from the unconstructive influences of this culture.
As per the news report in December 2009, the government has earmarked $200 million budget for the development of welfare programs to rescue 30,000 teenagers with a special focus on crime and education. Yes will partner with the government to add to the effectiveness of the government program. This program has been designed to better utilize the available funds, channelize them effectively, tag along the government initiative and work in accordance with the government policies.
The middle and high school students do not drive; therefore, the aim will be to have centers around their schools and in central locations. We will tie up with the schools to use their facilities after school hours and community centers for other training programs. We will use the local parks and sports fields wherever and whenever it is available and feasible. These areas will help accommodate our recreational activities. In the first phase, the plan is to target lower income or lower socio economic areas like Manukau and Papakura.
- Track attendance and participation.
- Collect feedback and conduct surveys at regular intervals during the programs.
- Conduct surveys and feedback sessions with the families to gauge their responses.
- Track satisfaction levels, rates of crime and other applicable areas.
- Follow-ups for any participants who withdraw from the program and provide alternate programs to suit their interests.
- Track monthly expenses, cost per student/ participant and evaluate program cost efficiency
One of the leading visionaries of this project is Ms. Sudha Pathak who has around 35 years experience in the field of children welfare and education. She has run many child and youth welfare programs internationally. She has worked with UNICEF as the Director Programs - Asia Pacific. Given her experience and valuable insight, we are confident of running these programs successfully and making a difference in the society.
We aim to employ teachers from schools, university students, local churches and volunteers from the community who share our vision. It is very important for all the involved members to believe in the values of the organization.
Number of employees: Minimum of five per day per centre from Monday to Friday.
All volunteers and employees will be first aid certified with a prior qualification or experience in the related area. The volunteers and employees will be reference checked before being hired/ involved in the programs.
YES's will raise funds through:
- Private donations - From $1000 per year to sponsor a youth to $50 for outdoor activities for one student.
- Government grants - the Ministry of Social Development through their service called Child, Youth and Family grants funds up to $50,000 to start up organizations involved in the social welfare programs.
- Private foundations and business sponsorships - businesses can also participate in the fund raising events throughout the year from Wine Tasting, to Fun Runs, Swimming Competitions and Raffles.
- Schools and fund raising campaigns.
The forecast of funding for 2010 is $160,000. The core funding is from the government grant of $50,000. We have identified 12 sponsors who are interested in participating in this initiative. The anticipated contribution from each of these sponsors is $5000 totaling $60,000. We also plan to raise around $50,000 through private donations and other campaigns. The target is to increase the estimated revenue in excess of $300,000 by 2012.
Prospective Partners - Funders
- The Lion Foundation
- Mt Wellington Foundation Ltd
- South Auckland Charitable Trust
- Catholic Caring Foundation
- The New Zealand Lotteries Board
- The Southern Trust
- United Way
- Skycity Auckland Community Trust
- J.R.McKenzie Trust
- East Tamaki Community Trust
- Manukau City Council
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Department of Family and Community Services (2004), Guide 1: A guide to developing youth participation certificates, http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/57238/20060525-0000/thesource.gov.au/above_and_beyond/Guide_1.pdf
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