The Lives of Adolescents

Schooling & Work In The Lives Of Adolescents

The fortunes of the average adolescent, who is neither “a child” nor “an adult”, as s/he moves through these important capacity building yearsis not a common focus in the literature on India’s development. The younger adolescents are usually clubbed with children and the older ones with adults.

The focus group of this study includes both young and older adolescents (11-18 years)to see how they are faring more than a decade after Education for All initiatives swept the country. We look at the group keeping in mind the child-adult continuum, i.e. being aware of the different age groups within the group, and their specific needs and aspirations. This focus widens the range of issues relating to the group as a whole. The issues extend beyond enrolment, retention and child labour, to a more complete understanding of the extent of capacity building that has been possible for the young person and what his/her future is going to be. What kind of opportunities has he or she had and what is the outlook within a globalised economy.

Empirical Evidence

The research bases itself on the empirical evidence from a school survey and a household survey in the states of Delhi, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. A second and significant dimension of the empirical evidence is the survey of upper primary and secondary schools funded directly or indirectly (aided) by the government.  In all, around 160 upper primary and secondary schools were surveyed in the three states – a sample size that was not common for other school surveys at the time.  The school survey has generated a wide sample of teacher and administrator perceptions.

The household survey covers around 1400 households with at least one adolescent child in the 11-18 year age group. The survey has generated data on a large sample of around 2500 adolescents across the three sample states.  The survey is also distinguished by its attempt to gather the quantitative without sacrificing the qualitative element.  In addition to the information collected about these adolescents and their families, there are detailed interviews with a subsample of around 1500 adolescents and their parents.  Similarly, the survey employs the technique of collecting time use data.  This tool helps in generating rich insights into the role of schooling and work in the lives of adolescents – and the gendered nuances of this role.

The study looks at households with a locational disadvantage, e.g rural areas of a state, or low-income areas or slums in district capitals. In Delhi, squatter settlements and resettlement colonies are selected as sample areas. However, within the sample area, the sample is chosen randomly, without being biased towards those who are at bare subsistence level. This allows the analysis to explore a range of experiences and possibilities. The survey, while looking at capacity building, attempts to capture the family perspective, treating both boys and girls as equally important and yet distinct. Such gender disaggregated data when both boys and girls are studied from the same focus on the same issue is rare, from both Indian and international perspective.

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