Nearly 350 students across the state of Tamil Nadu in India participated in an online Youth Leadership Program (YLP) spread out over eight months. I initiated the program (I am currently the District 120 Director), and it was coordinated by Mr. NTR Swamy, a member of the HCL Pandyas Toastmasters Club in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
YLP is for those younger than 18, and this particular program—which ended in June 2020—was for students ages 12 to 16 attending government schools. The workshop was presented to 15 different groups of students over the eight months; each group was led by an individual club, which provided a coordinator and member trainers. The YLP coordinators worked with students online using the platforms Zoom and Google Meet.
Teachers said the structured curriculum was a great help to the students.
The YLP sessions were held over the weekends since students attended regular classes from Monday to Friday. Most students did not have access to desktops or laptops and used mobile phones to access the sessions. In addition, the program was conducted in schools where English is not the medium of instruction but, rather, an optional language. Most students from these schools have a challenge adapting to using English in the classroom once they start attending college, so YLP workshops can be immensely beneficial, not only in helping them develop communication skills but in building leadership skills as well.
The success of the program can be gauged by the fact that the students and teachers have been asking for more YLPs. We have also seen that the students are now more comfortable speaking in front of an audience and their communication skills have improved significantly.
We have more clubs coming forward to present YLPs at schools this year too, and we hope to reach 500-plus students during this program year.
Satish Menon is the District 120 Director. He is a member of three clubs in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.