Session Submission Summary

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What’s skills got to do, got to do with it?

Wed, March 8, 3:15 to 6:30pm, Sheraton Atlanta, Floor: 1, Atlanta 3 (North Tower)

Session Submission Type: Group Panel

Description of Session

Being an adolescent is hard, whether you are in school or out-of-school. It is a time of transition between childhood and adulthood. During this critical time in life, adolescents are expected to navigate puberty, while encountering new expectations, roles, and barriers that are placed upon them. Cognitively, it is a time of expanding and exploring minds. Adolescents are poised to learn new knowledge while also begin developing new skills that can aid in the transition to youth and adulthood. However, too many adolescents around the world have missed out on not only education, but also the development of key skills and knowledge. According to UNESCO , there are 263 million children, adolescents, and youth who are currently out of school. The same report notes a changing gender gap: “In 2000, 54% of the 375 million out-of-school children, adolescents, and youth were female. By 2014, there was virtually no difference in the global rates” (p. 2). That being noted, schooling for the sake of schooling is also not the answer because an estimated 250 million children of primary school age are failing to acquire basic learning proficiencies even when they spend some time in school . All of this for the largest generation of young people in our world’s history . They are in need of adequate and groundbreaking knowledge and skills to continue the momentum that has been built over the past two and a half decades. Despite the challenges noted earlier, we are seeing record number of children and adolescents accessing formal schooling during at least part of their formative years; between 2000 and 2014, the number of out-of-school children has decreased from nearly 375 million to 263 million individuals .

The adolescents of today and tomorrow, regardless of their educational backgrounds or futures, need an effective and ethno-relative skills development. These skills may come in many forms, but together they create a solid foundation for this generation to make informed decisions, engage in their communities, and enjoy healthy families and relationships. This double panel is focused on multiple programmatic efforts and studies that have recently been done to better define what skills may provide the most leverage for adolescents to define, choose, and lead their futures. Specifically, the panelists will discuss the various models, and resulting evidence from programs that have been designed and implemented to develop adolescent leadership skills, self-esteem, and life skills development.

Given the plethora of emerging approaches, practices, and data from leaders across the development community, this panel is being proposed as a double time-slot panel. Its format will employ a conversational tone rather than traditional lecture-style presentations so that emerging and divergent themes and evidence can be better explored amongst the panelists and audience.

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