The formal K-12 educational systems world over are undergoing many changes. In this guest article, RajaniKanth, CLO and Co-Founder, PrepMySkills, makes a case for holistic skill development at school level in India. Let’s read on to know more about how democratization of education manifests itself through changes in the form of universal access to school education, improving the quality of education, using technology in education, and focus on holistic development.
With respect to holistic development, policy makers and educators are placing increasing emphasis on the development of critical life skills along with the traditional focus areas of languages, sciences and mathematics. Societal changes in the form of nuclear families and increased individualism have disturbed the traditional eco-system of family and society of the earlier eras which supported the imbibing of these critical life skills in earlier generations. Today, there is a need for the formal K-12 system to address life skills development in an explicit manner.
In India, with the intense competition for the few seats in the quality higher education institutions, the spotlight of school education has been increasingly limited to the academic subjects of sciences and mathematics. This has led to lopsided development of the individual who may succeed in getting the coveted seat in higher education but is unprepared to lead a well adjusted balanced life. For a harmonious society, it is important that school education focuses on holistic development. There are many research studies conducted by UNICEF, World Bank and other reputed organizations, which have conclusively established the importance of ‘life skills’ in school curriculum to create well adjusted socially productive citizens of tomorrow.
Young adults today are exposed to an active global world which brings in ’necessary’ and ‘unnecessary’ influences on them. Thus, it has become imperative for our children to start understanding and appreciating the relevance of this exposure and more importantly understand how they could deal with these influences. While the world is getting exciting with access to digitization, global cultures, wider and greater options and opportunities, ease of travel, education and exposure sans borders, online payments, etc., it also creates challenges of changing habits, competition, peer pressure, pitfalls of technology and social media, changing social dynamics, virtual reality vs real world etc. It is therefore critically imperative for skilling our children to be equipped to understand and differentiate and be prepared with the relevant skills to deal with these changing dynamics responsibly.
As per UNICEF, “Education that helps young people develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, that builds their sense of personal worth and agency, and teaches them to interact with others constructively and effectively, has transformative potential”. The demographic dividend of India can only be transformative when the young population of this country develops life skills in addition to vocational skills to manage the challenges in everyday life, whether at school, at work, or personal lives. Life skills are defined as a group of cognitive, personal and inter-personal skills that enhance abilities to manage challenges and risks, maximize opportunities, and solve problems in cooperative, non-violent ways.
The critical importance of acquiring 21st century Life skills is highlighted in a recent study released by World Economic Forum’s BCG Study – 2016 which states that 65 % of today’s school children will be working in jobs that are not in existence today. World Health Organisation’s studies highlight the critical role of life skills education in improving health, hygiene and Safety. All these studies globally indicate the vital importance of life skills education. There is also a body of knowledge to suggest that life skills learning is most appropriate at a young (school going age) to tap into the innate curiosity of the child. At a K-12 level, the scope of a life skills progam would cover the following aspects :
- Deal with stress and ability to effectively manage emotions
- Enhance social skills such as interpersonal interactions
- Communication skills
- Empathise and understand others’ needs.
- Collaborate through teamwork and cooperation.
- Problem solving, decision making, critical and creative thinking skills
While there are many educational programs currently available addressing the academic and vocational spaces, a Bangalore based EdTech company, Prepmyskills, offers a comprehensive “Program to Enrich Life Skills, Attitudes & Values”. Using the power of self-paced learning through a unique online approach, the program covers the gamut of life skills.
The mission and approach of Prepmyskills is elucidated below:
The program provides children with the opportunity to absorb concepts and principles, experiment with the concepts using activities, and apply the learning in virtual scenarios. All this is provided to children in a one-on-one anytime access mode thereby providing a safe non-judgemental learning environment. Given that it is a cloud hosted solution; it is a “Green” solution with nil to minimal use of paper. The program allows children to learn at their own pace and shifts the onus from the teacher to the learner.
Some key aspects of Prepmyskills program to highlight here include:
- Self- Learning – Non- judgemental and allows for learner to internalize and apply without any inhibition
- Sustained Inputs – The program is from Class 1 to 10 giving the children adequate age based inputs for step by step progress
- Application orientated – the activities and virtual scenarios provided gives the child the chance to review their response and make corrections, if required
- Flexible learning options – allows them to access anytime, anywhere on a laptop, desktop, tablet or smart phones
- Digitized learning content – to keep the interest and attention of our young learners
The Prepmyskills program is designed around a four-step framework:
Prepmyskills program is currently supporting the life skills learning of 85,000 children in various schools. Students access topics in the following categories.
- Life skills – Social skills, Emotional Skills and Thinking skills.
- Attitude – towards Self and Society
- Values – Health and hygiene, Financial literacy, Responsible citizen and Managing Adolescent.