Elementary education is free and compulsory in India, but according to a recent government report, the dropout rate for Muslims—India’s largest minority group— is nearly 25 percent. The situation is made worse by the prejudices Muslims face and the poor school infrastructure in predominately Muslim areas.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, an EDC program with a dual focus on education and employability is putting success within reach for Muslim and other disadvantaged youth in four Indian states. The first component, called Minority Education for Growth and Advancement (MEGA), operates in both secular schools and madrasahs (Islamic schools with religious education), as well as in informal education programs for out-of-school children and youth.
MEGA introduces child-friendly teaching methods, improves educators’ classroom management skills, and creates low-cost educational materials.
“MEGA’s focus is on access to quality education and creating an environment conducive for Muslim children,” says EDC’s Jose Sool. “It also provides career guidance for youth at the secondary school level.”
The second component, called Skills for Youth (SkY), works with the Government of India to help disadvantaged youth ages 15–29 develop marketable skills. Conducted by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) in partnership with EDC, SkY will bring together the public and private sectors to share information about successful vocational and employment programs. It will also identify areas for improvement in government programs.
Originally published on January 25, 2011