The 5th Space isn’t created in isolation as a new space, but has in fact been conceptualized by understanding existing spaces for young people and the impact of such spaces. Read more about some of the organizations in our network that are rooted within the values and principles of the 5th.We call this the 5th space. It is a space where young people develop a psycho-social worldview, which answers the question “Who are we?”(we as in humans – a social species) as opposed to “Who am I?” This view allows young people to understand and define their connection to the world as it is. The 5th space makes the relationships in the other four spaces count by nourishing and enriching the capacities of young people to take effective and responsible action. The 5th space believes that self transformation is the first step towards creating change in our relationships and in society. Space.


Digantar’s search for alternatives in education began on a very small scale with a small school in 1978. The first ten years of that small school were grounded in understanding elementary education and classroom practices. Digantar was formally registered as a non-profit society in 1987 focusing on the education of rural children. They began work in the villages on the outskirts of Jaipur, and currently the rural education programme runs in three villages with over 600 children. Digantar feels that the aim of education should be to develop rational autonomy, sensitivity, democratic and egalitarian values, dignity of labour and skills. We believe that the purpose of primary education is to make the child a self-motivated and independent learner. Digantar is an organization striving to develop educational opportunities for children based on the idea of creating a society of equal beings, mutual understanding, respect, and negotiations to find optimal ways of sustaining itself Located just outside of Jaipur, Rajasthan, Digantar Shiksha Evam Khelkud Samiti believes that the purpose of education is to make the child a self-motivated and independent learner with the ability to think critically.

Patang, Odisha, was started in 2003 with a vision to create youth leadership in rural and semi-urban parts of western Odisha. The team consists of young people who started their journey as volunteers and today run programs and participate in all the organizational processes and decisions. Patang’s model creates an enabling environment and takes young people through an experiential learning process so that they can transform themselves and their communities. For example, volunteers with Patang’s Pathmakers program participate in self-development and leadership camps and skill-building workshops. They also lead and participate in campaigns to highlight and spread awareness on different issues, such as the RTI, Gender Equality, and Appreciating Diversity. These campaigns enable young people to understand different perspectives and take stances on social issues that impact them. It also gives them an opportunity to demonstrate that they can make a difference. During the summer vacations, volunteers are placed with grassroots NGOs and movements across the country. These processes enable young people to get out of their comfort zone, analyze their attitudes, values, and stereotypes and also build their skills and confidence to challenge them. Patang also builds skills in young people, so that they can assess the need of a community, design a viable intervention and implement it. The Squirrel program develops a cadre of volunteers at the community level by supporting young people to volunteer and work directly with the community. For example, volunteers have implemented projects on malaria prevention, construction of toilets, monitoring midday meals, promoting organic farming, and setting up community libraries, to name just a few. The Anubhav Shiksha Kendra reaches out to children, adolescents, young people, teachers, parents, and the community and facilitates interaction, workshops, debates, and discussion. It is a space for learning outside the four walls of the school and coaching centers and is run by a core group of young people elected by the youth members. The core group designs and facilitates activities for youth members such as meetings, film screenings, theater workshops and action projects on RTI, food security, waste management, and gender discrimination. A core component of the adolescent life skills curriculum is the social action project. The action project is always on an issue that is suggested by participants and is relevant to their lives. Designed by the participants, the action project provides participants an opportunity to apply what they have learned and experience the Self to Society connection by inspiring others and making a difference to a locally relevant social issue they care deeply about.

The YP Foundation (TYPF) promotes and protects young people’s human rights by building leadership skills and strengthening youth led initiatives and movements. It is led and run entirely by young people. Founded in 2002, TYPF supports and enables young people to create programs and influence policies in the areas of gender, sexuality, health, education, the arts and governance. TYPF supports young people between the ages of 13 and 28 through a year-long program to conceptualize, design, and implement community-based projects that challenge stereotypes, forge sustainable partnerships, and provide an opportunity for self-expression. Over the years, TYPF has worked with 5,000 young people to set up over 200 projects in India, reaching out to more than 300,000 young people. The projects span a number of issues and groups, such as climate change, leadership training for young social entrepreneurs, ensuring access to non-formal education and health care for out-of-school children, life skills and mental health projects with in-school children, sexual reproductive health and rights awareness program for peer educators, awareness programs on voter’s rights, and support for young people and livelihood sustainability and arts education with young filmmakers, artists, and writers. The array of projects ensures that young people get a chance to get hands-on experience working with an issue they care about, enabling them to understand human rights and social justice issues and develop their leadership skills while doing something they enjoy. As a former team member described it, “This was my happy space.” The organization believes and institutes a shared leadership model that contributes to the high levels of belonging and ownership at TYPF. The senior management team is collectively responsible for developing, mentoring, and building internal capacities. Six program divisions develop and host project ideas and train 350 volunteers each year to run and sustain the projects. One of the core values of TYPF is dynamic learning through reflection from action and vice versa. The evaluation mechanism at TYPF brings together all volunteers, staff, and board members every quarter for a series of brainstorming meetings during which they develop the mission and goals of each program division, review, and evaluate each project. The core staff team changes every two years and the volunteer base rotates every year ensuring constant renewal and the influx of new ideas.

The Youth Fellowship, PUKAR’s flagship project, is a unique knowledge initiative, which provides a space for the critical engagement of mostly marginalized youth. It uses research as a pedagogical, interventional, and advocacy tool to empower youth to negotiate the city and focuses on transformation processes of the youth, the community they work with, and the society at large. These Barefoot Researchers use the city itself as a learning lab to build new urban knowledge without the intermediary of a formal structure of learning that tends to otherwise distance them from their contexts. Hailing from suburban Kalyan, Rahul and his mixed group explored “friendship,” a critical aspect of youth identity, through instruments of interviews and photographs. Their research revealed that prejudices about caste, religion, and economic status play a significant role in forming and sustaining friendships. The impact of the group research was felt strongly by every member. During a recent interview, Rahul said: “In addition to improving my communication skills, listening skills, and conflict resolution skills, the process helped me to change my attitude toward the diverse views of others, respecting those views and taught me to think out of the box for all issues touching my life.” Rahul also felt that he has learnt the importance of bringing about social change that must first start within him. Together with his group “Yaar” he is now engaged in an action project that he believes helps the youth as well as the larger societal structures. Most of their research topics are situated in their localities and anchored in their living experiences. This experiential learning exposes them to the existing hierarchies and social, cultural, and economic diversities of the world to which the learner/researcher belongs. Thus, the Barefoot Researchers gain the ability to reflect upon their own selves, learn to ask vital questions related to social practices and governance, challenge the prevalent wisdom to make arguments about their future, and become problem-solvers for the future of their cities. The format of group research helps to inculcate certain values necessary for sustaining an inclusive, participatory, democratic system of governance.

ah-dahr-shee-lah – The foundation stone put onto the land to build a house Founded in June 1998, Adarshila Learning Centre is an innovative school for Adivasi (tribal) children in Madhya Pradesh. Founders Amit and Jayashree titled it ‘learning centre’ to get away from the rigid, didactic stereotype of mainstream schools in India. Their school is flexible, with a curriculum that combines academics, world issues, practical skills, and cultural heritage with a lot of fun. Amit and Jayashree, who believe in Paolo Friere’s ideas of popular education, feel that education is especially important for the tribal community. They started the school in an effort to inculcate Adivasi children with a value for learning and an awareness of important issues facing their community. The school is run by an organization named Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan. Jayashree and Amit develop the curriculum. They strive to teach the children from an early age to think critically and to be community leaders. Learning at Adarshila is hands-on as well as textual. The students do science experiments, seek oral histories, and write plays about important issues in their community. When the hand pump was being drilled, they paid attention to what sort of rocks were present in the earth every fifteen feet down. They then made a chart illustrating the geology of the ground beneath them. Once when they were gardening, some students found a petrified tree root. They interviewed village elders and discovered the history of the land, and how government contractors had come in and massacred the forests that used to grow there. They are making books out of Bareli stories, which they have translated to Hindi. The older students read about issues going on in the world and discuss them. Their teachers present them with the information and then let them discuss and debate it themselves. The Kindergarten group is called Beej (“seed”), and most following grade levels are named after famous rivers: 1. Beej 2. Yamuna 3. Kaveri 4. Bram Putra 5. Krishna 6. Amazon 7. Nile 8. Octopus.

MANZIL: EDUCATION FOR RESPONSIBILITY – NEW DELHI : Manzil is a youth empowerment and learning center in Khan Market, New Delhi, that provides opportunities and resources for young people to learn, teach, be creative, and see the world in new ways. It offers classes in Maths, English, Computers, Music, Painting, Dance, and Theater. In contrast to the traditional classroom, in Manzil there is no hierarchy between teachers and learners. Rather than teachers providing the answers, students are expected to ask questions, think for themselves, and learn though experience and action. Students are encouraged to take on the role of a teacher and initiate classes of their own, based on the belief that everyone is both a learner and a teacher. Manzil also fosters opportunities for young people to express themselves outside the classroom. For example, music has become a popular medium of expression, and students have created their own bands that are invited to perform at various events. They write their own lyrics that express their thoughts and feelings and also explore different kinds of music that they would not hear ordinarily. Theater is another medium that has attracted many young people. However, theater is not viewed as a product to be put up on stage or as a potential profession for young people. Instead, theater is treated as a pedagogic tool—a “process of observing, exploring, revisiting and representing the various subtleties and shades of our inner and outer lives.” Through various workshops, young people have acquired a more confident outlook, a reflective openness, and sensitivity to various issues, ideas, and relationships around them. Exposure trips to other NGOs have been instrumental in providing insights that bridge the gap between textual information “taught” within the confines of syllabus and school, and the lived realities of flesh-and-blood people. As a result, Manzil students are stimulated into thinking and acting on issues that remain largely invisible or deliberately disconnected from our own lives and consciousness. Most importantly, Manzil fosters compassion for those within and outside the community. This close-knit group provides opportunities to young people to understand how they may enrich themselves and create lasting relationships with their fellow community members. Former Manzil students often return to teach classes and serve as a testament to the educational system at Manzil.