ConnectEd – A great start for year 3

Aug 14, 2013

A parade of youth walking through the office is an odd sight, but one that Alcatel-Lucent employees in five countries have become accustomed to. These students are preparing for the world of work with the help of Alcatel-Lucent volunteers as part of ConnectEd, the Global Signature Program of the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation.

The Alcatel-Lucent Foundation and World Education, Inc. have worked together since April 2011 to implement ConnectEd to address the factors limiting the work and life options of disadvantaged youth, serving over 14,000 youth in Australia, Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia.

Under ConnectEd, Alcatel-Lucent employees are important resources – sharing their expertise and experience directly with learners, teachers, schools and communities. In total, 1,225 employee volunteer placements were filled in Year 2 of the ConnectEd program in its five countries, positively impacting 4,636 young people, their families and teachers.

Zhang is a participant in the ConnectEd “World of work” program for out-of-school youth in Beijing. “The experience of participating in ConnectEd made me feel secure and comfortable,” she said. “You can sense the genuine in our group and between the facilitators and participants. We learned most of the things in small groups. It is awesome that you don’t need to worry that anyone would disclose your information or secrets outside of the learning group.”

The aim of ConnectEd is to help disadvantaged youth achieve better learning outcomes, have skills that will make them better prepared for the world of work and be more active in their communities. ConnectEd uses a range of interventions to reach these goals, from scholarships, coaching, life skills and personal development courses, to non-formal education programs for out-of-school youth, job skills training, work placement, and ‘youth civic voice’ actions. ConnectEd recognizes the importance of possessing basic information communication technology (ICT) skills for fostering inclusion, and puts a focus on those skills to give disadvantaged youth a better chance to cross the opportunities gap and to access more and better employment options.

Take Sundari, from Delhi, India, for instance. Struggling with debt problems, her father was about to stop her schooling and send her back to her home village to marry her off. Through multiple home visits the ConnectEd India team persuaded the mother to keep Sundari in school and offered financial assistance towards the costs. They invited her parents into the ConnectEd center to see the computer labs and observe the classes, and now her parents are the staunchest supporters. Sundari has proved to be a keen student with strong computer skills and hopes to one day attend college.

ConnectEd reached 10,702 youth during Year 2. And overall, since the beginning of the program in April 2011, 14,600 youth have benefited. The numbers for Year 2 are impressive: with 7,499 accessing ICT as a result of the program; 6,522 being helped to remain in school through interventions such as scholarships and coaching; 1,701 being provided with non-formal education alternatives; and, 4,874 getting better prepared for the world of work through technical training, work experience and life skills courses.

But it is the individual stories, such as that of Zhang and Sundari, that really show the success of ConnectEd, that show how it has been changing lives and setting youth on different trajectories.

Panut is another great example. In Indonesia, Panut was forced to drop out of school due to his family’s poor economic situation. Luckily for him, his neighbor introduced him to ConnectEd. While Panut doubted whether he would be able to continue his studies, he was well accepted by his classmates. “I learned so many new and vocational things here. I gained a lot of knowledge about computers and discovered my eagerness for learning how to cook.I enjoy my classes very much!” Panut enjoyed his cookie-making class so much that he wants to run his own bakery and café one day. Panut realizes that he will need more than just his Senior High School certificate to fully support his future. He plans to start selling his cookies and also look for a job in a bakery so that he can save money towards a marketing degree.

ConnectEd has been transforming the life opportunities of ten thousand youngsters in Year 2 and will reach many more thousands in Year 3. You can follow our updates on the ConnectEd Facebook page and get in touch with us and learn how to get involved via the ConnectEd website.

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