Importance of Life Skills: The National Policy on Education (NEP) 2020 was a landmark initiative for the Indian education system, calling for profound reforms and a systemic change in the education sector. This new policy recommended the inclusion of life skills as a part of the curriculum, where the vision is that education should not be limited to educational outcomes to focus on the holistic development of our future generations. Rather, we need to move on from this.
Incidentally, this policy came to the fore at a time when the world was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis was typical of this time period and reflected the loss of opportunities for education and learning as a whole.
In a 2019 report released by UNICEF, it was said that in 2030, more than half of South Asian youth will have neither the education nor the skills to find employment. This assessment highlights the grim reality of our future.
India’s problem is not only unemployment but also inability to find employment. With 650 million Indians under the age of 25, the world’s largest youth population, it represents a unique situation. About 22% of the incremental global workforce over the next three decades will be generated from India. With suitable interventions this demographic dividend can easily be converted into a sustainable opportunity.
What is meant life skill? Importance of Life Skills
- Life skills are a set of abilities, approaches and socio-emotional competencies that enable individuals to learn, make informed decisions and exercise authority, and then become agents of change, to lead healthy and productive lives.
- Life skills promote mental health and ability in youth to face the realities of life.
- These skills support the development of basic skills such as literacy, numeracy, digital skills, as well as in various areas such as gender equality in education, environmental education, peace education or education for development, livelihood and income generation and positive health promotion. may be used.
- Life skills empower youth to participate in their communities, engage in a continuous learning process, protect themselves, and take affirmative action to promote healthy and positive social relationships.
Need for Life Skills in the Indian Context
Adaptation to the situation:
- Time management skills for children, self-awareness skills for students, interpersonal relationship skills etc. provide the ability to adapt to situations, persevere and constantly reevaluate and restructure life.
Opportunity for students to understand and address situations:
- Critical thinking skills allow students to understand and address situations based on available information and facts.
- Critical thinking involves organizing and processing facts, information, and other data to design a problem and develop effective solutions.
Creative Thinking Skills:
- Creative Thinking Skills gives us an opportunity to rethink any subject from a new perspective and from a new perspective.
- It is an innovative thinking process that enables one to achieve exciting results and do things in a new way.
- To generate new ideas, creative thinking can be supplemented by side thinking or brainstorming.
Weak Knowledge Society:
- Knowledge is the core of any productive society, although the ability to learn and apply critical thinking skills (where both are defined as ‘skills’) to solve problems is far more important than the accumulation of knowledge.
- This ability helps individuals to invent and innovate, thereby paving the way for social and economic development.
- Indian children and adolescents are found to have low levels of understanding and conceptual clarity about learning/learning skills, analytical skills and knowledge of human rights (including gender equality).
- National Achievement Survey (NAS), State Learning Achievement Surveys (SLAS), Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and Program for International Student Assessment- PISA) etc. are some of the macro-level assessments that have consistently drawn attention to the poor level of language and math learning among children after eight years of education.
Depreciation of Human Capital:
- A weak knowledge society also affects the ability of its members to understand and apply the opportunity to seize opportunities and the importance of learning in building a productive society.
- It is fueling inequalities in health, education and life expectancy and is most clearly visible in some states and territories of India.
- The country is experiencing extreme poverty and low development in many geographies, where youth do not have the skills needed for productive employment and livelihood, and workforce preparedness along with the lack of key competencies to meet the changing demands of a dynamic market. And lack of enthusiasm.
- In the post-independence period also India continued to experience inequality and exclusion due to deeply rooted social (such as caste, tribe, minorities and gender) and class-based structures. These stabilize and limit opportunities for people, preventing them from systematically taking advantage of the rights, opportunities and resources that are generally available to all members of society.
- Within these groups, the girl child is further discriminated against on the basis of gender. The level of these inequalities also varies substantially in different regions and regions.
Way of Solution
Building a ‘Common Vocabulary’:
- It is not possible to effectively advance life skills delivery in India without an agreed terminology and assessment framework.
- The most meaningful way to enable this would be to develop a common vocabulary at the national level.
- If the 2005 National Curriculum Framework (NCF) helped build a baseline for academic competencies, the new framework envisaged by NEP 2020 is expected to play the same role in life skills education. The basic action for this has already started.
- The Life Skills Collaborative (LSC) is a consortium of 30 organizations with multi-sectoral expertise working in collaboration with state governments and educational institutions. It has spent the last 18 months creating a glossary of key words/terms related to life skills and a framework for life skills training.
Creation of Assessment Tool:
- A robust assessment tool will help us assess the impact of each life skills training framework and channelize our efforts towards deploying the most effective framework.
- For example, the ‘Future Readiness’ assessment tool deployed in 15 different pilot missions under ‘Young Warrior NXT’ is measured in three key dimensions of enrollment, engagement and learner feedback. Designed to provide comparable evaluation and insight.
- This will inform sustainability and future scalability, which becomes especially important for managing large systemic changes in education departments that reach millions of students.
Curating Content on Life Skills:
- Providing age-appropriate, relevant and contextual learning materials for all will be the cornerstone of building life skills for the 21st century.
- Several e-learning solutions (which aggregate high-quality learning material on the most basic of academic subjects) have truly revolutionized the field of education.
- One such solution to curate content on life skills can immensely benefit the stakeholders investing in life skills transactions at large. This will not only enable youth to take charge of their own learning, but will also provide opportunities to build on existing efforts in the ecosystem and collaborate with learning experts in this field.
Using existing systems:
- Existing school systems and vocational training infrastructure should be leveraged for mass delivery of life skills.
- With over 10 million teachers and over 1.5 million schools in India, this is a significant asset base and distribution channel that can be tapped.
- However, it is also important to note that teachers are already overburdened with work and the pressure to make up for the loss of education during the COVID-19 period is putting a heavy burden on the system.
- Therefore, it is essential that we adequately assist, support and guide teachers with pedagogical frameworks, lesson plans and assessment tools to enable delivery of life skills training within the mainstream curriculum.
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