By students, for students

How Bal Sansad, or child parliaments, enable students to find their voices

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“The PM has a budget for the nation. Why don’t we have a budget for the school?” – Bal Sansad Student, MS Dalsinghsarai, Samastipur District, Bihar

With non-cognitive skills such as critical reasoning and the ability to engage in meaningful debates becoming ever-more important in a fast changing job market, enabling young people to articulate questions such as these is crucial.

The idea of Bal Sansad (or ‘Child Parliaments’) within government elementary schools is not new. A model United Nations program has been running internationally since the mid twentieth century, while the Indian government first proposed the idea of Child Parliaments almost twenty years ago. In practice, its implementation has been sporadic and inconsistent. In Bihar, where Quest Alliance run the Anandshala program in the Samastipur district, interventions to enliven the Bal Sansad Child Parliaments date back to 2012.

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Gender Representation at Work

How Quest Alliance moved from 33% female staff to 50% female staff in just one year

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Quest Alliance is an organization which practices what it preaches to the world. One of the core areas of focus for the organization over the last year was to improve our work on gender. To make it a more meaningful focus, we started with the creation of a gender strategy for the organization. This focused on gender not just in the programs we deliver, but also how we practice gender equity as a whole organization.

When this process began in June 2016 we had a ratio of fewer than 30% of female staff to male across the entire organization. Most of these women were based out of our head office in Bangalore, while the field locations showed a much more skewed gender ratio – some of our field locations had 12 staff members, only one of whom was a women.

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Education & Skills Sector Reading List, February 2018

The Quest Alliance round-up of must-reads across the education and skills sector this month.

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In good news for graduates, a recent survey has shown both that the employability of Indian graduates is rising, and that more companies are showing higher hiring intent in 2018. Read more in Live Mint here.

It’s not all about tech skills – Google has found that non-cognitive skills (and not STEM skills!) are the most important when it comes to the success of its employees. Read more in the Washington Post here.

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Learning with your Learners

What does it take to be an impactful facilitator? Nuneseno Chase writes about being an an instructor, counsellor, friend, mentor, administrator … but always a learner.

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Over the years as a facilitator, I’ve discovered that learners have different characteristics, different learning capabilities, different reaction times, different attitudes, values, interests, motivations and personalities.  I need to be aware of these differences and adjust my pedagogy and learning environment accordingly.

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The Innovation Revolution

Only through nurturing a culture of innovation at scale can our education systems change fast enough to meet the needs of 21st Century learners. IDEX Fellow Chloe Edmundson shares how this belief brought her to Bangalore, and to Quest Alliance.

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I am a devout believer in the power of innovation. Innovation has the power to completely shift existing realities both in incremental ways and on immense scales. I strongly believe that one of the most important areas to be harnessing the power of innovation is in our education systems. Our educational systems are simply not built to support the current state of our world. Lack of access to education or using antiquated models means that we are not preparing students to flourish in our rapidly changing world. We are individually and as a planet facing overwhelming issues threatening our very existence, and I believe that the foundation of addressing these issues is through education.

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Digging Deeper: Budget Implications for India’s Youth

The 2018 budget saw the highest ever allocation of funds for skill development. What does this mean for players in the sector, and how can we help translate this investment into a real difference in outcomes for India’s youth?

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Quest Alliance’s Ashutosh Tosaria, who manages the 45-member MyQuest team helping youth across India learn employability skills for career development, shares his thoughts on the 2018 Budget with Manish Sharma, in this Q&A piece.

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Campfire, Community and Common Purpose

What does it mean to be a learner? For Divas Vats, participating in the School for Democracy fellowship has been a lesson in the value of struggle, the importance of hope, and the need to do justice to the opportunities for learning that come our way.

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I can’t recall a better start to the year than 2018.

On December 20, my mentor Bezwada Wilson walked into the room and asked me to book the tickets for the fortnightly long workshop of the Democracy Fellowship by the School For Democracy, an initiative of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS). Over the course of three years, it brings together 52 grassroots activists from 17 states. We fellows engage with the state and work to influence systemic change and struggle for rights and entitlements.

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