The Centre of Excellence for Adolescents and Youth, an on-ground and online solution for fulfilling the needs of young people, was recently launched by the Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
An initiative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the Centre was launched in the presence of the secretaries of the Government of India, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. S. Parasuraman, Director of TISS, and heads of UN agencies at the United Nations Office in New Delhi. The Centre of Excellence is a first of its kind knowledge hub that aims to advance young people’s development agenda, by pioneering research and investment into fulfilling their needs for health, education and skill development.
Highlighting the Prime Minister’s mission to provide skills to India’s youth, the Minister for Skill Development pointed out urgent needs, including resources, in skilling young people and preparing them to join the workforce. “The Government of India is working towards convergence among the programs of different ministries to prepare a comprehensive roadmap for skill development. The Centre of Excellence will help in this effort”, he said.
Welcoming the collaboration of TISS and UNFPA, the Minister invited the private sector to work with the Government on skill development.
“The Centre of Excellence would enhance the participation of young people in India’s development and create a space for their voices to be heard. The initiative, which improves the availability of knowledge and services for young people, and brings together multiple stakeholders on one platform, is part of concerted efforts to ensure that the benefits associated with India’s demographic dividend can be seized”, said Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. UNFPA, the lead agency on population and development issues globally and in India, works to deliver a world where every young person’s potential is fulfilled in India and globally.
Between 2012-2013, after several consultations with young people across the country, held by the UN system, it was found that: “Young people are not heard”, “not seen, understood or respected as equal partners, stakeholders and decision-makers”. The dropout rate for youth above 15 years, especially girls, remains very high at 47% for girls and 39% for boys.
“The Centre of Excellence would help young people make informed choices, and contribute to informed policies and investments”, said Frederika Meijer, UNFPA Representative India. It has three pillars: Research and Development, Youth Portal and Virtual Marketplace that will assist youth in different aspects of growth. The centre will establish partnerships with South Asian and other international academic institutions and youth organizations, fostering regional and South-South cooperation.
The youth portal, www.youthinfoindia.org, is India’s first comprehensive online database on young people, which also offers young people a platform to voice their concerns. The Virtual Marketplace is a state-of-the art online space where products, services, ideas and expertise on young people can be found. It is a meeting place for young people and service providers including the government, development and community based organizations and the private sector.
Furthermore, people aged 15 to 24 are invited to participate in a contest to suggest a name for the Centre of Excellence on the youth portal- www.youthinfoindia.org. The winner will visit the UN headquarters in New York for a week and serve as a youth advocate.