Ashraf Patel has introduced a new framework for the youth of the country to identify their own latent potential and emerge as young leaders.
Positioning leadership as the journey from ‘self to society,’ Ashraf started out by developing a multi-faceted curriculum, Pravah SMILE, which introduces youth to practical decision making based on a set of complex social problems. Using a combination of popular media, immersive experiences and real-time simulations, young people go through a range of experiences which unlock their potential to see and cause change. So powerful is this methodology that Ashraf has today seen dozens of youth groups, educators and civil society organisation building youth leadership programs using these processes and frameworks on a daily basis.
In the last twenty years, Ashraf has continued this process of youth conscientisation by creating leadership spaces within schools, colleges and communities. Through her curriculum, structured internship programs, school camps, and teacher-training programs, Ashraf is providing young people with the tools, training and trust to effect meaningful change in their own lives, and in the future of their neighbourhoods and communities. Towards institutionalising this, she has she has worked with the National Curriculum for Educational Research and Training towards embedding youth leadership and development in curriculum taught by the Central Board. Further, she has built a strategic partnership with the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), an autonomous organisation nested in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, to work with all the youth clubs set up across rural India, and has been directly reaching out to hundreds of youth across diverse spaces.
Since inception, Pravah has directly impacted more than 25,000 young people through its workshops and internships. Yearly, more than 20,000 hours of youth volunteerism has been clocked at over 40 organisations. Pravah campaigns, designed by school students, teachers and youth groups, have brought more than 150,000 young people into their fold. The Pravah’s school curriculum has become a part of the mainstream curriculum in 10 schools, with more than a 100 teacher ambassadors who have been trained in the Pravah way of youth engagement.
Taking her model a step further, Ashraf has today launched the Change Looms program to incubate and mentor young entrepreneurs and leaders, particularly towards working and empowering other young changemakers. Through this, she hopes to inject fresh energy and ideas in youth leadership and development. As a next step, Ashraf sees the critical need for youth voices to inform and influence policy, especially those that are youth-facing. She has now launched Commutiny, a youth collective, through which she is ensuring the ability of young people to advocate for, and build a movement for youth leadership and development through media, research and publications. For instance, in early 2014, she reached out to 60000 young people for India’s first political manifesto entirely created and imagined by the youth of the country.
Note: This was updated in March, 2014. Read on for the ELECTION profile.