Towards developing employable youth!
Principal, Delhi Public School, Vadodara
The focus of the new education policy appears to be on development of skills among the learners.The paradigm shift would certainly help create a sense of relevance for the simple fact that it would be more value-oriented vis-à-vis the readiness required for the job market. In addition, engagement in skill development and subsequent enhancement would also conjure the spirit of experimentation and novelty.
Q: As an educator, what kind of skills do you think the schools should focus at the primary level, at the secondary level and at the senior level?
AK Sinha: The primary level child should get adept in the basic living skills including soft skills with a thrust on thought and speech. The secondary level should make the child adept in an all-round focus capable of responsibilities of a young adult while at senior school preparedness to launch into life should be at the core of the skill development plan.
Q: With greater focus on ‘skill development in schools’ what do you think are opportunities and challenges to school systems to respond meaningfully to the emerging needs?
AK Sinha: The challenges to the school systems in the context of emerging needs is the availability of relevant content and well equipped instructors for the purpose.
Q: How do you think teachers can be empowered and facilitated to discharge their work effectively in the changed scenario?
AK Sinha: Indeed the quantum and quality of inputs required will be a challenge for the teachers. However, the past has seen successful transitions in the methods of imparting of language courses and social science subjects from mere core textbook patterns to large scale interactive learning. Changes would only enhance such patterns in all areas.
Q: How do you think ‘skill development’ could be achieved in a classroom with closed walls and with a focus on ‘completion of syllabus’?
AK Sinha: Flexibility of time, abundance in input besides larger domains of achievement with variegated streams of options would certainly help achieve the required objective. Thus, marking a shift from the ‘classical’ classroom model.
Q: The development of conceptual models to imparting skill-based education would require several auxiliary support systems. What is the current preparedness in schools and what kind of support systems do schools expect from the administrative agencies?
AK Sinha: Currently very few schools have the auxiliary support largely with regard to the defined syllabus and textbooks. While laboratories and experiential learning space may be available, content both for the learner and the teacher seem to be inadequate. Hence, administrative agencies need to attend to the issue on a war footing, keeping in mind the fact that urgency should not mar quality and relevance.
Q: There has always been a dilemma on setting the priorities between – cognitive skills and hands-on skills. How do you think an optimal blend of both can be achieved in the learning process and how would it impact the existing model and design of curriculum and pedagogy?
AK Sinha: Cognitive skill is the basic blueprint that helps perform with the hands. Therefore, cognitive inputs leading to hands-on experience should be an ideal input cartel. Certainly a judicious blend of the two would impact the curriculum and pedagogy positively.
Q: Though the idea of vocational education with focus on hands-on skills has been in place for the last few decades, it has not met with its desirable objectives. One of the reasons for the above has been listed as ‘teaching skills on blackboards’. What steps do you think should be taken to make learning of skills and its empowerment more socially acceptable and value-oriented?
AK Sinha: Vocational education has largely been misunderstood as a labor intensive work which is despised by a large section of those who consider themselves made for the blue collar. A blend of theory with vocational content in a work setting would help imbibe in the learner the right values.
Q: It is seen that mere hands-on skills without appropriate life skills would defeat the desired objective of ‘skill-based learning’. What kind of life skills and professional skills will add value to courses structured on skill-based learning?
AK Sinha: Life skills and professional skills are harmonizing rather they thrive as parallels. We can see that sincerity and sobriety in life converts to affective seriousness on the professional front. Hence common life skills would impact professional skills in a very positive manner. The list of both is exhaustive.
Q: Though industries and business houses have been pointing fingers at the educational systems for not preparing ‘employable” young persons, they have not really collaborated or supported in such endeavours for various reasons. Do you think a scenario where industry-education systems can join hands and share responsibilities to provide skill based learning? What suggestions would you like to offer?
AK Sinha: Industries have long complemented the educational pattern and provided support by keeping open a large area of employability in the form of trainees. However, engaging internship during the period of skill acquisition would be a wonderful integration in developing employable young persons.
A.K. Sinha, Principal, Delhi Public School, Vadodara, has extensive experience in education. He has also been Principal of various overseas schools prior to joining Delhi Public School.