Bridging the Gaps Part 2 by Aashi Gupta
By Volunteer Aashi Gupta, FHI Bangalore
The following article presents a contrast between the lives of three kids (captured in 3 back to back blog articles), belonging to the underprivileged section, living in the same locality and under similar circumstances. The piece further elaborates on the importance of life skill education for kids, and why we need to bridge the gaps between literacy and education.
“Please wait in the common area, you’ll be called when the panel is ready to begin with the interviews”, said the receptionist. Hari (22) nervously picked up his files, adjusted his blazer and tie, and started walking towards the common area. On his way, he saw other applicants, as well as employees of this big corporate company, walking confidently, and conversing in English. After an hour long wait, finally Hari was called for his first ever interview. He went inside the room, wished the panel, and sat at the designated place. Hari had prepared well for this interview, and was thorough in all his concepts. However, as the interview progressed, Hari was struggling to answer even the most basic questions. He knew the answers well, but he didn’t know how to communicate his ideas clearly across the table. Also, when the panellists asked him some questions about general awareness, and critical reasoning, followed by questions related to Hari’s strengths and weaknesses, Hari found himself in a tough spot. As a result, he was not able to clear the interview, and this came as a great shock to his family, as Hari had been an excellent student throughout his school. He had joined a government aided school in his locality, and since primary classes, till the very end, he had been a topper in his class. That’s why everyone, including Hari was left wondering as to why was he not able to speak up at the interview.
As published in India Today in 2019, the Right to Education Act, and various policies like ‘Samagra Shiksha’ introduced by the government are able to bring the children to schools in the first place, however, the quality of education and the facilities/ infrastructure being provided is still below average. Most schools lack basic infrastructure and facilities like proper well ventilated classrooms and seating places. There is a severe shortage of well qualified and dedicated teachers, and a dearth of proper holistic education being given to the students. Even after passing out with the best of scores, the students are not able to face the world, and are clueless, as to what should they do next? This is because, apart from the conventional education being given in the school, they are not familiar with the soft skills, which will actually help them in creating a niche for themselves, and in conveying their ideas across. They lack basic skills of proper communication, critical reasoning, and in most cases, a proper vocabulary. In words of Jack Ma, founder, Alibaba group, “Everything we teach should be different from machines. If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years from now we will be in real trouble. We need to teach our children values, believing, independent thinking, teamwork, care for others. These are soft skills that conventional knowledge will not teach you”. However, no such skill-sets are being taught to the underprivileged kids in most schools. The figure below shows the promotion rate at different stages in school, however, mere promotion does not guarantee quality education and overall development of a child.
Evaluation of Adolescent Life Skills Education Programme in Secondary Schools of Chandrapur, Maharashtra – A Report Submitted to UNICEF