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  • Ashoka University Co-Founder Pranav Gupta addresses – Does higher education need a life skills curriculum?

    Published on November 21, 2022

    The perspective of college students has changed over the years. Universities do not draw hordes of students only for the possibility to broaden their knowledge but also to increase their employability. Higher education plays a key role in fulfilling India’s ambition to become a global force in the knowledge economy. “The availability of employees with the necessary skills and training is essential for the nation to stimulate the economy and compete on a global scale. Higher education offers a vital potential to shape our society’s future by significantly boosting the skill development of our individuals. Life skills help to balance knowledge, attitude and practical skills to develop personality skills, make wise judgments, and form social connections that can help them handle pressures of everyday life,” asserts Ashoka University Founder Pranav Gupta.

    The Washington Post claims that although college graduates may be getting employed, 40% of them are underemployed and work in positions which do not need higher qualification. The life skills strategy is a practical learning method that emphasizes more than basic knowledge. These skills educate students on how to better recognize and comprehend themselves, engage more mindfully and effectively, seek personal fulfillment, and accomplish their academic and personal objectives.

    Everyone needs life skills, including students who come from different lived experiences, financial conditions and aptitude levels. The following are few fundamental life skills that must be imparted:

    Financial literacy and money management

    Due to lack of financial literacy levels before graduating as well as the economic burden of attending college, many students grapple with financial support. Some students have difficulties with budgeting to the extent of being short of funds while enrolled in higher education. It is necessary to share finances with students to help them grasp expenses realistically. There is a need to motivate students to maintain credit accounts while also demonstrating how to settle off amounts without incurring debt. It is crucial to assist them in generating income or savings sources to cover these costs.

    Pranav Gupta Ashoka University co-founder shares, “It is essential to facilitate students’ interaction with finance professionals or experts to help students understand financial responsibilities, such as investments, savings, and insurance before graduating. It is important to teach children the value of being resourceful. This might be challenging because of the responsibilities of education and work as well as the nationwide increase in living expenses.”

    Critical thinking and motivation

    A person’s psychological abilities and social skills, which include problem-solving skills, critical and creative thinking, effective communication, the ability to maintain good relationships, and the capability to deal with regulating their lives in a healthy way, are all referred to as life skills. There are two main types of skills, such as cognitive skills and social skills. Though social skills include interpersonal abilities and are not always dependent on logical thinking, thinking skills are related to personal reflection. These two kinds of abilities must be combined in order to achieve confident behaviour and successful negotiation. Higher education should be concentrated on encouraging student tenacity to raise engagement levels and enhance these skill-sets. If students have a feeling of belonging, a sense of self-efficacy and see purpose in the course curriculum, they are more inclined to persist and remain motivated. An essential ability is self-management, which includes managing with thoughts, feelings, and overcoming any pressure. To foster unity and advocacy on pressing topics, young people require both cognitive and social abilities.

    “Life skills assist young people in making a successful transition from childhood to adulthood by promoting the development of their social and mental abilities. It aids in the formation of interpersonal skills and problem-solving abilities, which assist youth in creating their own identities. The curriculum must be adjusted so that it prepares students for life after studies. It is important to give them opportunities to interact with people on campus and foster a sense of community. There is a need to make sure that students are aware of the support options at their disposal,” states Pranav Gupta.

    Stress Management and cultural competency

    Life skills focus on applying and honing important skills in real-life scenarios and are grounded on interactive and participative teaching-learning approaches. Along with the growth of these abilities comes the growth of goal-directed behaviors, such as those involving movement, communication and emotions. The mental health of college students has come under greater scrutiny as a result of constant rising demands of higher education. Graduates may employ their base of coping skills in the workplace by learning to practice self-care and handle stress. Students need to develop cultural competency as a life skill in order to get along with people on both personal and professional level. It can alter mental frameworks and advance comprehension levels, acceptance and appreciation of inclusion and diversity.

    Students must be taught how to form connections and develop support networks. They should be encouraged on maintaining a healthy lifestyle like sleep and eat healthily, and exercise their bodies and minds. Information on the resources accessible to students both in and out of the campus is necessary. “Life skills are essential abilities for the career advancement of all degree holders, particularly as more organizations adopt a global perspective and increase their cultural diversity. All in-service programmes including orientation and refresher courses should include instruction on how to teach students life skills as a core component. It facilitates goal-oriented thinking and effort. The potential of higher education is to provide knowledge and research for innovation and productivity. We should remember that life skills education is not an extra topic; rather, it enlightens the entire education process,” highlights states Pranav Gupta, Ashoka University’s Founder.

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