PRADAN was formed in 1983 by young professionals who were inspired by the belief that well educated people, with empathy towards the poor, must work directly with them at the grassroots to alleviate mass poverty in rural India.
They realized that the critical gap in creating change was the absence of capable people, not material resources. PRADAN therefore has to invest significant organizational energy to find and induct well-educated youth and to equip them with the skills, knowledge and perspective necessary to become effective grassroots workers.
How It Works
• Those with a degree in professions like agriculture, engineering, veterinary sciences or a Masters degree in any discipline may apply to the year-long Development Apprenticeship programme.
• A number of experienced development professionals are trained recruiters, and visit some many campuses across India, encouraging young people to explore life and work at the grassroots.
• They are systematically trained to conduct these recruitment processes, and review several applications each year to make a limited number of offers.
• The Development Apprenticeship is a year-long programme that aims to inspire and equip young professionals to catalyze processes of socio-economic change in poor communities.
• The apprenticeship follows a praxis based education process, with two fieldwork periods (including a month-long village stay with a poor family) interspersed with classroom sessions (Foundation Course I and II), a project visit and visit to another NGO.
• A number of mid-career professionals are trained to mentor new recruits in the field for this period.
• Scholars from academic institutions and experienced practitioners run foundation courses.
• Field Work I gives them a reality check and exposure to the kind of impact that they can make as a development professional.
• It also helps them to check their own motivation and interest to make an informed choice.
• The Foundation Course I consists of different modules like Village Society and Economy, Gender, Caste and Poverty, Inter-personal Group Effectiveness, etc.
• These modules are taught in order to build a conceptual frame to the experiential learning of Field Work I.
• During the period of Field Work II while the choice making process continues, the apprentices tries to learn the nitty-gritty of social mobilisation processes as well as PRADAN projects in a specified area which is either within or adjacent to the work area of the Field guide.
• The major focus being learning, the apprentices typically take responsibilities of a number of SHGs along with other activities that these SHGs would be involved in.
• They are also expected to carry out different assignments e.g. INRM, Livelihoods to have knowledge and skills required to do development engagement.
• During this period they visit another team in PRADAN that is working on diverse agenda different from their own project.
• This helps them to build their perspective on PRADAN’s approach to development.
• Foundation Course II includes a visit to another NGO to build comprehensive perspectives on ‘Approaches to Development’.
• The different modules in Foundation Course II are Self Review and Reflection, INRM, SHG and its associative tiers, Livelihoods, etc.
• Overall, the experience enables Apprentices to: 1. Identify their motivation to work at the grassroots, 2. Assess their ability to cope with life and work in villages, 3. Assess their ability to deal with back home social milieu, 4. Clarify their career goals, 5. Intervene purposively in the community, and 6. Implement the development task. 7. Systems for reflection and feedback enable reflective practice.
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