Let’s focus on life skills!

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Sarosh Abraham
Secretary, St Mary’s Group of Schools, Kerala

We educators and social managers have missed out conveniently the essence of humaneness to be inculcated among the young. It’s not their fault, times are changing so are their challenges. Unless and until, life skills for the child become a one stop destination at being a good human, our work is not done, and other things can take care of itself.

I feel that lot of people have got mixed up with the notion of skill imparting to students at school level. Today the thrust in institutions apart from scholastic development is about learning computers, making scientific models or other engineering feats. Where and when do we impart skill to the child to be a good social human being? Hence we all missed a point there? Life skill is all about crafting a child into becoming a good human being first. Later on we can go into the histrionics. This should continue at all three levels at schools (Std 1 – XII). All this I is say is because, today since the time I was a CBSE student myself, there is a huge shift in the way students vs school business is being conducted. Somewhere along the way, social sensitiveness has gone out from the recent generation, declining perhaps since the last 20-30 years. We educators and social managers have missed out conveniently the essence of humaneness to be inculcated among the young. It’s not their fault, times are changing so are their challenges. Unless and until life skills for the child become a one stop destination at being a good human, our work is not done, and other things can take care of itself.

The dilemma continues…

Sarosh Abraham
Sarosh Abraham

The dilemma will continue for generation per se. I always believe that there is nothing called the perfect marriage, likewise there is nothing called the perfect school. The dilemma continues just for one simple reason. How do we sitting in some part of the country decide how much of cognitive skill and hand on skill an unknown child needs? What is the ratio that is to be attributed to him? Today’s world is so focused on specialization. Children need to watch, observe, and find their interest. Hands on skills imparted by a not so skilled tutor might have the reverse effect. It could even extinguish the inborn aptitude of a child. A general dose of cognitive skills could be a safe bet. Fixing doses for hands on skills could be risky. There we need to look at what each child needs or is capable of, or is good at. Discovering that is the key. Hands on skills handed out by schools basically should focus on primary life skill, a human basically needs. For eg, How does a student shop for grocery (how many know this?); First aid in case of medical emergency either at home or with friends?; or Preparation needed while travelling alone as per distance?

We should all start with the simple things in life. When children grow up, these things should come naturally to them, can our curriculum and Institution facilitate this?

On vocational skills…

Over the years, we have known to cramp too much of things into a children’s learning space. Shouldn’t it be better if we kept it simpler. For vocational training, let him/her go to a specialized vocational training institute to get trained in specifics.

All we can do is tell them the scenario exists, or that imparting of knowledge creates an interest in the child. If he/she has an innate ability to pursue certain things help them identify those skills. Purely through scientific methods. There are battery of standardized tests available which are suited to Indian conditions along with proper trained human advice. Each person has his or her pace and time in order to achieve their dream. First of all, we all need to accept that this pace exist. It cannot be generalized. I have seen a student finally become a chartered accountant at age 38. Shun being too mechanical at being generalizing everything for everybody. If we do it, it will end in disaster for many. Correlating academics and aptitudes (innate ability) and balancing that is the most important key for a happy future for a child.

Specialisation is the key…

It is not the duty of institution to churn out robots for industries and business houses. If a child wants to become a farmer, a police officer, a teacher, a movie director, a technician, a hairdresser, a chef, an advocate, a civil servant or a social leader,where does these houses fit in? They form only a small part of the entire scenario. Industries should share skill based technology to vocational training centers across the country, not to educational institutions till the secondary level. Employable educated only come from specialized skill training programs and centers and not general education formats. Industrial houses can help governments set up such exclusive training centers rather than coordinate with schools. If done with schools, it could do harm or will influence those young minds who want to pursue the areas I mentioned above or not so mainstream professions.

Give weightage to interest and skills, not marks…

Give a child the opportunity to know not do. We should realize that someone who is best scorer in maths does not become the best engineer in the world not the one who scores top in science does become the best doctor. To become an IAS, lawyer, police officer, legal expert which subject should they score in? Never relate marks to profession. It’s only a format to get admission in to future courses. The final say would be well informed choices should run a student life not wild guesses. Their interests, choices, skills should be given priority. Moving away from marks oriented life earliest would help this country, its generations, and not mere academics. New times need foresighted newer changes.

Born in Thiruvalla, Sarosh P Abraham did his schooling from Sainik School, Kazhakootam and St.Mary’s Higher Secondary School,Chennai. He is a Post Graduate in English Literature from Mar Thoma College, Thiruvalla. He started his career as Administrator at St.Thomas Educational Trust, Chennai in 1984. He served as Vice-Principal, at Thiruvalla during the year 1986-87 and from 1988 to 1997 he was the Administrator of St.Mary’s Central school, Trivandrum. In 1998, he became the Executive Director, St.Mary’s Group of Schools and presently he is the Secretary of St.Mary’s Group of Institutions. Sarosh is a Member, Deva Matha Schools, Bangalore & Queen Mary’s Educational Society, Kottayam & Vice Chairman of Global Kerala Initiative, Keraleeyam, an NGO, associated with HIV affected children. He has in his credit excellent administrative experiences of around three decades.