Life skills needed by children leaving institutions
According to Ministry of Education and Science figures, only 25% of orphan school leavers adapt successfully to society. The closed way of life in penal institutions and existing State structures aimed at preparing children to live independent lives are not fit for purpose and in need of reform, says Yana Leonova, Executive Director of the “Change one life” charity.
The Ministry of Education and Science has published details of a tender for the development and implementation of socialisation technology for pupils from orphan institutions and children who have been left without parental care, supported by school leavers from these institutions. Information quoted by the Ministry indicates that only 25% of school leavers from penal institutions adapt successfully to society. Those who have most difficulty in adapting are children exhibiting anti-social behaviour, those in trouble with the law, as well as pregnant girls and young mothers.
Yana Leonova believes that the majority of pupils living in penal institutions today are not yet ready for release. Poor levels of education that children receive in such places straight away place them at a disadvantage. “The existing system, type of education, training and collective living environment (notwithstanding Federation Government Resolution No.481) in most child orphan institutions are not providing the necessary independent life and decision-making skills, or a commitment to self-education. Children in penal institutions mainly live in a closed environment given leisure and educational activities are never organised outside the confines of an institution. This is greatly reducing their ability to develop independent life skills”, Leonova added.
Of course, there are support mechanisms available for school leavers from child orphan institutions to help them stand on their own two feet in Russia, says Leonova. These come in the form of mentoring programmes, as well as additional distance learning and socio-psychological support for children on their release from an institution. “However, the sheer scale of the support these children need has not been appreciated, understood or implemented across the country”, Leonova added.
Leonova believes that the tender for developing and disseminating a system of innovative approaches is a timely and necessary step. “Children are forced to deal with housing, medical and other difficult problems on their own, having received little or no training on how to deal with them. As a result, a significant proportion of school leavers have found themselves in extremely trying circumstances. The State is duty bound to help school leavers survive beyond the walls of residential orphanages but has created an unnatural living environment for these children. The State has got to improve this state of affairs. However, without the support of NGOs, who I hope will take part in the tender exercise, the State will not be up to the task”, Leonova added.
Details of the terms and conditions for participating in the tender can be found *here. The deadline for receipt of applications is 4 February 2016.
Author: Irina Laktyushina