India Life Skills Summit

Rangeet attended the India Life Skills Summit on 17 Nov, 2022, hosted by the Life Skills Collaborative (LSC).

These were notes taken during several presentations and panels aiming to summarise what was said and are not direct quotes:

Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, Head of the drafting committee for India’s National Education Policy (NEP) and former head of India’s space research program

Education is not just about foundational and cognitive capacity, but life skills as well. Diversity in education is key and the current siloed system must change. This can only be realized if there is enough emphasis on social-emotional, physical, creative, ethical and cultural development in addition to core subjects. He confirmed that the NEP makes this explicit. Education has ignored the skills vital to daily life. High quality education must equip a child with life skills. Right now India’s education system does not do this. India will have the highest population of young people in the world aspiring for high quality education, with 400 million children requiring life skills. There aren’t enough teachers to meet this demand. Curriculums need to be of a particular standard but also they must work for different contexts. Globalization calls for the acquisition of new skills on a continuous basis to become lifelong learners. The NEP has been crafted to ensure that every child gets a quality, holistic education, thus leading to a just and equitable society.

Dr Biswajit Saha, Head of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

We are seeing an unprecedented change in human history and education and its purpose will change. We need to promote the employability of India’s youth. How can we translate this to parents so that they connect with it? We need to replace rote learning and integrate new learning into schools’ current learning. The CBSE is trying to infuse the current curriculum in a manner that life skills start getting included and move away from current systems. In other words we are proactively driving changes. In order to drive these changes new systems, methods, processes are a necessity. Creating happy healthy schools in India to develop life skills in all children as well as to make them into aware and good citizens.

The CBSE sees the urgent need for collaborative action with diverse and relevant experts to mainstream life skills. The CBSE would like us to approach them and experiment with the CBSE so we can dream up a new India together.

Vyjayanthi Sankar, Centre for Science of Student Learning (CSSL)

If we are trying to inculcate life skills everyone is responsible, not just teachers, but parents, community members, policy-makers, etc. CSSL recognizes the difficulty in measuring social skills and learning outcomes, but this is a must if we are to succeed in bringing this new learning to all children.

Geeta Goel, Head Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, India

The world, and indeed India is at an inflexion point with respect to life skills, and we must not lose momentum. The need was in fact always there, but Covid accelerated it. Employers are asking for these skills. Leading tech companies are asking for different skills, and de-emphasising traditional degrees, so the movement has begun. We have to create pathways for new thinking and action; make it easy to implement so it takes root and succeeds. Measurement is required so that teachers understand progress.

To create equity, government schools must adopt life skills otherwise the rich will dominate as they will score higher owing to their exposure. So if we don’t permeate life skills everywhere then we will leave the poor behind and that will lead to a whole new version of education inequality. Corporate India and funders can help solve this problem and recognize that all students are different. Rural versus urban context is important. Every child has an individual journey and everyone doesn’t need to reach the same destination. One doesn’t have to be the best at everything. Experiments, technology and assessments will unearth the best solutions. Solutions that focus on the individual are very important.

Rangeet’s Take

Life skills / social-emotional learning (SEL) wasn’t part of the education conversation. Indeed the architect of the NEP and the head of the CBSE confirm that it must be part of education’s purpose; integrated, robust and everywhere. The size and scope of the problem is enormous and the problems are myriad.

Tackling the learning crisis is made more difficult due to the data gap on learning outcomes. Rangeet was included in this Brookings Institution’s November 2022 report that features Digital Tools that leverage real-time data collection and visualization in education. In fact Rangeet has been classified under typology D as below – i.e. tools that enable data collection, data analysis & visualization and enable content delivery.

Through Rangeet’s mobile app, scale and standards are achievable throughout rural and urban India. Teachers, parents and community members are involved so that the burden doesn’t fall just on teachers. Rapid experimentation and data driven decision-making and improvement is possible at low cost without causing upheavals and disruptions. Contextualisation, infusion into the core curriculum, and importantly, measurement, is part of the Rangeet platform. The SEEK curriculum is developed around experiential, play-based learning and accounts for multiple intelligences/learner variability, that is, every child learns differently.

Simran Mulchandani

Business Development, Technology

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