Skill development in schools: are the schools ready?


Kailash Pawar
Principal, Delhi Public School, Korba

The new education policy appears to focus on development of skills among the learners. But, it is too early to predict that this paradigm shift will bring about a revolutionary change and would generate a sense of relevance.

It is a welcome change that education policy is focusing on development of skills among the learners. However, if the implementation is in alignment with presumptions and perceived policy, then there will surely be remarkable change so far as relevance of education is concerned. Perhaps the learner would find school a welcome place and the monotony of lectures by teachers would be broken for good.

What are the opportunities & challenges?

This new development will surely pose a lot of challenges along with providing a host of opportunities to the school system.

The first major challenge would be to change the mindset of the stakeholders i.e. the teachers, the learners and the parents. The second challenge would be to provide adequate infrastructure and skilled manpower for effective implementation of this policy. The new classroom would require teachers or trainers with the clear vision regarding their role. Even the physical setup of the classroom will see a dramatic change. The duration of teaching periods along with the contents of the syllabus will be accordingly aligned.

So far as opportunities are concerned, it all depends on how individual schools response to new challenge. In short, to each, his own.

Are schools ready for the change?

Kailash Pawar
Kailash Pawar

If I have to be brutally honest, then let me tell you that none of the schools are prepared for this challenge. This is almost the repetition of erstwhile CCE system- a system that came all of a sudden and remained a puzzle till very end. It is expected that the administrative agencies would provide a blueprint with very clear cut objectives and instructions regarding new infrastructure. It is also expected that proper orientation courses for the teachers would be worked out,hand books for teachers as well as students would be provided and online help centre to sort out day to day issues would be a great idea.

At present, most of the classrooms are overcrowded -the usual strength in many schools is around 45 to 60 students.With such strength, the personalized interactions would be near impossible so there would be a need to either increase the classrooms or setup new schools so that the class size can be reduced. Till the time this thing happens, the only way out is intensive training for the teachers to handle this changed scenario effectively. Of course, a change of mindset is definitely required as now the focus is going to be on attainment of skill rather than somehow completing the syllabus and scoring minimum passing grades.

What are the skills required?

For effective implementation of the national policy on education, with focus on skill development, the following skills must be essentially cultivated in students:

At the primary level, the most important skill would be communication skills, followed by attitude adaptability and IT skills.

At the middle school level, besides the above mentioned skills, focus must be on self-management, team building and creativity.

While, at secondary level, the additional skills would be self-motivation, stress management and entrepreneurship.

What about life skills?

In my opinion, the life skills that must be imparted besides skill based learning are: decision making,problem-solving, lateral thinking, interpersonal relationships, self awareness,empathy,equanimity and resilience.

The important professional skills that must be imported to young students are communications skills, public speaking, teamwork, time management, leadership, flexibility and inter-personal skills.

Once equipped with these skills besides professional or vocational skills, I am sure graduate or school pass out for that matter would be a great asset to this great nation.

What are the hiccups in transition?

If the new Educational policy with focus on skill development is seriously implemented then it will surely render the present model of education, curriculum and pedagogy meaningless. So far as blending of cognitive skills with hands on skills is concerned, it would happen by and by there is no way that such a transition would take place overnight and without hiccups. For smooth transition, a lot of orientation is required involving all the stakeholders. There would be a need of refreshers courses for the trainers and teachers and through the use of modern technology it can be achieved in a very effective manner.

How to make it more acceptable?

To ensure that the learning of skills is socially acceptable, one needs to bring about a change in the mindset of the society. Through advertisements involving various media, an awareness campaign must be launched to ensure that all respect dignity of labour and no job or occupation is considered a taboo. It will also be a good idea to create an interface between educational institutions and industries. This will ensure good placements and

development of skills as per the need of the industry.

How can industry-education institutes linkages help?

Indeed,the captains of industries have often taken pot-shots at education system and its futility. Now the time has come for them to walk the talk. Let them spell out what kind of manpower they require, what kind of skills they want the fresh graduates to possess to be employable. A synergy between industries and educational institution would be mutually beneficial to both the parties. The educational institutions will know what to provide and industries will save time in training the young recruits. In fact,it can lead to specialisation and cost efficiency for the industries.

Kailash Pawar is a seasoned professional with nearly 24 years of rich and extensive experience in teaching and administration; presently working with Delhi Public School, Balco, Korba (under the aegis of Delhi Public School Society) as Principal. He has acquired his Masters Degree in English Literature from D.A.V.V., Indore in 1992 and Bachelor of Arts Degree (English Literature, Economics & Political Science) from D.A.V.V., Indore in 1990. He has completed Bachelor of Education from School of Education, D.A.V.V., Indore and has a Certificate in Teaching English from IGNOU, New Delhi. He is a keen planner & implementer with track record of implementing operational policies/ norms, systems & controls, motivational schemes & education standards during his career span. He has a hands-on experience & skills in developing curriculum to accommodate different learning styles & maximizing students’ comprehension.