What we do
Of 313 million adults who do not have basic literacy in India, 59 per cent are women.
About 43 per cent of science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates in India are women, but their share in STEM jobs in India is only 14 per cent.
At the core of Yuva Chintana Foundation’s work lies the belief that the biggest challenges we face as a society can be overcome with concerted action and a willingness to relentlessly search for and identify viable solutions to those problems, i.e. through the spirit of youthful thinking. That said, being able to do so requires a tenacity of spirit that only comes from the development of a scientific temperament which diverges from an overt-reliance on fatalism and superstition that has come to characterise Indian society as a whole. It is for this reason that YCF designs solutions for educators to foster critical thinking, creative confidence, communication skills and a 21st century mindset through activity-based, project-based and arts integrated learning in school-going students. Towards this aim, YCF has partnered with a number of organisations in the field to build curriculums, train facilitators, teach students and advocate for STEM education, particularly for girls, across the length and breadth of Karnataka.
The emphasis on gender
During the course of its work, YCF has evolved a sensitivity towards questions of gender within the space of education. YCF believes that it is important to encourage students of both genders to ask questions of the institutions they see around them that perpetuate exclusion, concentrate power and function on outdated principles of biological determinism, among other things. It is important for school going students to question stereotypes, hierarchies, social norms and values that exclude entire populations of people on the basis of genetic or physical traits that they have no control over. Doing so makes these students develop the ability to critically and objectively examine everything they see around them without being biased or prejudiced, much like a scientist.
Why the arts matter
The arts in all its many forms offer the perfect medium for educators to initiate dialogue and debate on difficult topics and ideas that are integral to many of the curricula that YCF helps deliver. The arts also offer educators the perfect medium through which to help students develop a love for learning through self-exploration and play. They give students creative confidence, helping them believe in their ability to make things. They help students see things from different points of view, helping them develop the ability to be objective and unbiased in their evaluation of things around them. Finally, the arts give disenfranchised students a voice through which to articulate their identities.
YCF worked with a school in the Halasuru area of Bangalore city that had been providing affordable education to local students since 1873. At the time of this project, a lot had changed in Halasuru; the construction of the Bangalore Metropolitan railway line through the locality had disrupted the lives of the locals and displaced many of them. This project sought to use the arts to help these students articulate their response to these changes and consisted of three phases--written histories, puppet making with paper and CAD (Computer-aided technologies) and a public showcase.
PROJECT 101 WAYS
YCF started Project 101 Ways in 2019. It started as an initiative to encourage students to develop an aptitude for problem solving. It incorporated tinkering with a wide variety of materials and equipment so students could work with their hands and develop their own solutions for problems they encountered along the way thus promoting a STEM mindset.
IBM STEM FOR GIRLS
In 2019, YCF partnered with IBM, Quest Alliance and American India Foundation to spearhead their STEM for Girls (SFG) programme in Karnataka. YCF has created a network of facilitators working across 67 schools in 11 districts to disseminate the core objectives of this programme—to encourage adolescent students, particularly girls, to develop a 21st century mindset and pursue STEM career pathways. In order to do this, YCF connected these students with the knowledge, tools and skills required to communicate better, think critically and develop digital fluency to prepare them for the careers and workplaces of the future. SFG is an ongoing programme.
INTEL AI FOR SCHOOLS
In 2021, YCF partnered with Intel to pilot the delivery of a curriculum on artificial intelligence to school children in four government schools—two in Bangalore Rural district and two in Yadgir district. Using a gamified approach, YCF’s team of four facilitators and two coordinators successfully disseminated the curriculum to over 600 students despite the challenge of having to engage students through online mediums of learning. This resulted in a project showcase on July 31, 2021, where 12 teams were given a chance to share their prototypes of AI-inspired solutions for real-world problems with Smt. Shilpa Sharma, Chief Operating Officer, Zilla Parishad, Yadgir, Shri Nalini Atul, Additional Commissioner, Public Instruction, Government of Karnataka and esteemed dignitaries from Intel. Watch the showcase