Aftermaths of skilling for a school dropout

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Today the education system is moving away from “teacher centric teaching” to “learner centric learning,” an integral part of which is application based education. The symbiosis between knowledge, skill and attitude is being recognized more and more for grooming the next generation of workforce. Knowles' four assumptions regarding andragogy that as individuals mature (a) their self-concept moves from that of a dependent personality toward one of increasing self-directedness, (b) they accumulate a growing reservoir of experience that becomes a rich resource for learning and a broad base upon which they can relate new learnings, (c) their readiness to learn becomes increasingly more oriented to the developmental tasks of their social roles and not the product of biological development and academic pressure, and (d) their time perspective changes from one of future application of knowledge to one of immediate application, giving them a problem-centered rather than subject-centered orientation, helps to provide a good perspective to the skill training domain.

Skill development should lead to inspiration, motivation, knowledge and wisdom- because that is what an individual requires as profound education. Skilling is not about teaching how to count but how to make the individual count in a society through the recognition of one’s amazing abilities. Skilling is learner centric and therefore the teacher is no more “a sage on stage but a guide by the side” to create a conducive environment for learning and practicing. Creating experiential learning through the use of suitable techniques and assessing to improve the learning is at the core of skill development.

Ants Consulting and Services realized this need and understood the Mephistophelian impact that unidimensional teacher centric rote learning education can have on the society by churning out degrees which do not provide gainful employment. The natural corollary to this would be redundancy of the unique abilities and low self-esteem. The impacts of these are already visible today in the manifold increase in criminal activities for survival as well as increase in psychological disorder among people. Therefore, we at ANTS decided to move towards creating social cohesion by creating skilled individuals who are more employable and can add to the economic development of the nation.

Our experience in this field has thrown up myriad examples of paradigm shift in the lives of individuals.The training has not only led to economic upliftment but has led to a change in the eco system surrounding the trainer and trainee. Skills training has helped them to fight social concerns related to unemployment, malnutrition, gender discrimination, poverty and related issues like security and hygiene.

The trainers have received validation of their skill through train the trainer programmes and have also been able to build on their learning. This has provided them better opportunities in the job market which has helped them to improve the quality of their and their family’s life. However, it is the life of the trainee that gives us the maximum satisfaction especially when we notice the cascading effect of their learning.

Since skill training is not limited to a specific section our students range from school dropouts to post graduates and professionally qualified individuals, from specially abled to physically challenged. This kaleidoscopic nature of the classroom immediately teaches diversity management. The environment throws up attitudinal issues and there is a hand on understanding of the interpersonal and intra personal skills. The activity based learning encourages reflection and action planning as useful tools for personal development.Team building practicum happens in the classroom as the trainees learn to work with individuals who adopt different roles.

This experience makes them “feel wanted” which is one of the greatest needs of the human being. All their lives these students have gone through a feeling of rejection and inferiority complex therefore the skill programmes suddenly gives them a reason for their existence a feeling of being capable and unique.

They begin to find their “place in the sun.” Their success like an invisible hand changes the life of their family members. Their parents start enjoying financial security and do not fall into the clutches of unscrupulous manipulators, their health and hygiene improve, their siblings start going to school and there is a general wellbeing in their environment as they become champions for growth and improvement.

Our dreams of a “Swaccha Bharat” and a corruption free India can only become reality if this domain is encouraged and people are truly empowered to lead their lives as one of Knowles’ assumptions mentioned.

References:

1. Knowles, M. (1973). The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston: Gulf.

2. Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education. New York: Cambridge, The Adult Education Company.

3. Darkenwald, G. G., & Merriam, S. B. (1982). Adult education: Foundations of practice. New York: Harper & Row.

4. Davenport, J., III. (1987, March). A way out of the andragogy morass. Paper presented at the conference of the Georgia Adult Education Association, Savannah, GA.