Life Skills Education Non-Negotiable For Holistic Growth

Life skills are speedily becoming the key to holistic and well-rounded growth in the 21st century and they can be inculcated to develop robust citizens for a powerful nation, writes Arjun Bahadur.

Holistic development implies the nurturing of mental, social, emotional, and intellectual abilities of a person for their overall growth. This is where the role of life skills becomes critical. Life skills are essential abilities and interpersonal skills that enable individuals to make informed decisions with a social conscience, enforce positive behaviour, and most importantly prepare them to deal effectively with the uncertainties in life. In today’s rapidly changing and immensely unpredictable environment, developing life skills has become a critical building block for the foundational progress of individuals. 

There are 2 key areas of development that life skills lends itself to – the emotional and social well being and the future readiness and employability of young people. Development in both of these areas is critical for a young person to have an enriching and thriving life. 

The Need for Emotional and Social Well Being

Amidst the gamut of changes the pandemic brought in its wake, it reiterated with resounding clarity, the urgent need for developing and nurturing life skills in our lives, especially for children and the youth. A survey conducted by the Indian Journal of Psychiatry underlines the devastating psychological impact of the pandemic that gave rise to significant mental health ailments ranging from depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances etc. A scientific brief released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted how the pandemic triggered an alarming 25 percent increase in anxiety and depression worldwide.

There has also been a steady and systemic shift in the psyche of individuals around the globe. Citizens across nations are attempting to cope with the emotional and mental ramifications of navigating complex personal and professional lives; and all the ensuing statistics and data point were in one direction. Now more than ever, inculcating and developing life skills like resilience, adaptability, and an effective mechanism to cope with stress have become critical for citizens to lead fulfilled lives.

Future Readiness and Employability in the future

Life skills are speedily becoming the key to holistic and well-rounded growth in the 21st century. They can be inculcated to develop robust citizens for a powerful nation. Life skills like communication, responsibility and leadership qualities are not only crucial for personal growth, but also for professional development. A study by the World Economic Forum in 2021, discovered that over 50 percent of employers listed problem-solving, collaboration and communication as the most prized skills in their employees. Additionally, the advent of rapidly advancing technology has shrunk the world around us. The youth of today need to be equipped with skills like respecting diversity and relationship management in addition to being digitally literate, in order to understand social and cultural differences.

The role of life skills in education basis the above mentioned critical areas. It is increasingly evident that educational ecosystems all over need to undergo a transformation to absorb life skills training into the very fabric of their daily curriculum. The New Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) emphasises the need to recalibrate the educational landscape of India to include “21st-century skills” like adaptability, innovativeness and critical thinking. Along with underlining that education needs to be “more experiential, holistic, integrated, and inquiry-driven”.

Dr K Kasturiangan, Chairperson, NEP 2020, recently shared his views at the India Life Skills Summit 2022 organised by the Life Skills Collaborative, and said, “The purpose of the educational system is to develop good human beings, capable of rational thoughts and action, possessing compassion and  empathy, demonstrating courage and resilience with sound ethical morals and values. These are all life skills and must be cultivated in every child.”

To metamorphose this vision into a concrete reality, acceptance, acknowledgement and action on mainstreaming life skills are imperative. Academic curriculum needs to be supplemented with overall psycho-social competencies and interpersonal skills to empower our children and young people. The foundation of a sturdy, self-sufficient nation lies in the success of its individual citizens.

The focus on life skills is at an exhilarating stage of its journey in India. It is imperative that we accelerate the momentum and bring the spotlight on the pivotal role life skills can play in ensuring the holistic wellbeing of the youth of our country.

 

—The author ​​ Arjun Bahadur is a Lead at Life Skills Collaborative (LSC), which focuses on championing life skills for India’s young people to thrive, through an extensive on-ground outreach programme. The views are personal.