Bridging the Gaps Part 3 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.

SCENE 3:

“Okay class, we are done for the day. Now all of you, go pack your bags, and get ready for the fun sessions with FHI”, announced the teacher. Archana (16) hurriedly stuffed her bag, and went out to meet the volunteers, along with her classmates. Now, as they all settled down in the ground, one of the volunteers took charge, and explained the day’s theme to the kids. The theme was ‘MINDFULNESS’, and the volunteer described it by differentiating between being MIND-FULL and MIND-FUL. The kids were divided into groups and as the session progressed, they were asked to perform various activities, one of which was INTROSPECTION. In this, the students were asked to write 4 traits which they like about themselves, followed by 4 which they don’t and hence would like to change. Archana and her friend exchanged glances, confused as to what they should write. They have never given a thought about their traits. However, by the end of the activity, both of them, along with the other kids, were able to introspect and write at least 3, if not 4 traits which they liked about themselves, while giving a thought to what they would like to change about themselves. 5 years down the lane, Archana was giving an interview for a big event management company. The panellist asked her about her strengths and weaknesses, and within a few minutes, she was able to answer the questions in a very nice manner. When asked about how she was so prompt with the reply, she said that back in school, she had attended a session on Mindfulness, wherein she was introduced to the concept and usefulness of introspection, and since then, she has been spending time with herself and her thoughts every now and then, hence she is able to analyse herself better. She was selected for the interview, and is now at a senior position in the company.

From the above 3 scenes, we can see the sharp contrasts between the lives of Reshma, Hari and Archana. Even though they live in the same locality, still their realities are far apart. We can draw the following conclusions from the above article:

  1. Despite a lot of policies and programmes being initiated by the government, majority of the underprivileged kids are not at the receiving end of even the basic education. If we want to educate the kids, then we cannot simply lure them with free education and free meals. Instead, we have to go beyond that, and take measures so as to empower their families as well. In majority of cases, these kids are willing to learn and study, however, their circumstances and financial strains prevent them from doing so.
  2. When enrolled, we should make sure that they are given the best of education. Along with the conventional education, what they need is that exposure and the necessary skill set so as to face the world, once they are out of school. They should be taught the necessary life skills like Communication, Critical Thinking, and Mindfulness along with an exposure to Theatre, Art, Music and Sports. This will not only help them in building up a great personality, boosting their confidence and developing an emotional quotient, but will also help them in developing traits like team-work and sportsmanship. Also, with the knowledge of theatre, and other extra-curricula’s, the children would be able to explore these fields, apart from the traditional career choices, find what interests them the most and may also pursue a career in the same. All in all, soft skills are the key skills to excel in any career path, because being able to explain confidently about what you did, is just as important, if not more, than what you did

The World Economic Forum, at its annual 2016 conference in Davos, had released its ‘The Future of Jobs’ report, discussing the employment, skills and workforce development strategies of the future. The report was based on interviews with chief human resources and strategy managers of leading global corporates, and listed Top 10 skills that will be vital to succeed in workplaces by 2020. They include problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, emotional intelligence, judgement and decision-making, service orientation, negotiation skills and cognitive flexibility. This makes it even more important to develop our children in such a way, that they can succeed on the personal as well as the professional front.

The above figure shows a comparison of the secondary and senior secondary results of various states. But we should keep in mind that while improving the literacy rates of the country, we should also focus on making our kids more educated, aware and well prepared to take on all the challenges that life has to offer.

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