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E-Pao! Opinion - Education beyond Text Book

Education beyond Text Book and Examination Oriented System
- A need for today's Manipur society -

By: Pheiroijam Romikanta Singh *


"In the past five years in particular following the opening up of the Indian economy and technological sea-change, there's been growing awareness among school and college managements that examination success does not necessarily translate into workplace success.

It requires something more than mugging up textbooks to be a successful doctor, engineer, architect, teacher, manager or entrepreneur.

And that vital missing link in the education process is the acquisition of life skills - capabilities which prepare children to cope with life's diverse challenges.

These skills which need to be nurtured help children tackle failure, relationships, sexuality, exam fears, rejection, peer pressure, and stress - problems which can severely affect their lives," says Syed Sultan Ahmed, founder managing director of The Activity, a Bangalore-based division of S.S. Edutainment Pvt Ltd.

Corporate honchos such as Reliance Industries founder the late Dhirubhai Ambani, Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson, steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, who were academic drifters but well equipped in life skills have shown a live example of how important these skills are for professional and personal success.

Further, The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Paris-based trans-national organisation committed to children's rights, survival, development and protection, has decreed life skills an integral component of quality education.

At UNICEF's suggestion all 164 nations which signed the United Nations Millennium Development Goal charter of Education for All by 2015 have included 'life skills' as a basic learning need for all children and youth.

Defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as "abilities for positive and adaptive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and changes of everyday life", life skills such as problem solving, decision making, good manners, communication and interpersonal skills, are highly valued in the International job market.

Somewhat belatedly educationists, especially in urban schools across the subcontinent, have become acutely aware that teaching life/ soft skills to students is as important as developing academic capability for professional and personal success.

Many schools in the metros and big cities of India have incorporated these skills development training in secondary education to make the student ahead of others in the job market.

The Corporate world prefers candidates who are not only strong academically but also with soft skills like problem solving, decision making, good manners, communication and interpersonal skills because it saves the industry time and huge money as these qualities are required and must be sent for training again if they do not come with these qualities.

Problems of incorporating life skills training in Manipur Schools:

The reputation of a school in Manipur is defined purely by the result in the X and XII Examination and it's a fact that every school wants to be rated among the top slots.

In the race of the top slot many schools ignore the very essence of other elements than Examination result.

The survival of a school depends on the strength of the students and the reputation of a school can be to some extent related with the presence and willingness by the academically bright students to be admitted in the school.

In Manipur emphasizing Life skills training in the school may be considered not only counter-productive but also posing threat to the quality and quantity of the students in the school because most parents are not fully aware of the practical utility of Life Skills and moreover it is still the Examination result, which most parents in their own wisdom feel, will decide the success of their wards.

Conclusion:

Manipur education system, despite the fact that it gives so much priority in making the students academically sound with classes on Sundays, holidays and parents sending their wards upto four or five tuitions per day, yet we do not find many of these academically sound students in large numbers doing professionally well compared to students from many other states in India.

School authority and parents should realise the importance of these soft skills if our students are to join the band-wagon of more and more competitive international job market.

Much of what is taught in schools today is not applicable in real life situation. Children need to be taught more real-life skill sets.

Life skills training should start in school during the formative years so as to ensure that our children leave school better equipped for life and they are able to compete globally with success.


* Pheiroijam Romikanta Singh contributes to e-pao.net for the first time. The writer can be contacted at romikanta(at)gmail(dot)com . This article was webcasted on August 16th, 2007.


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