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Can skill-based curriculum replace existing higher education system?

As the education requirements and the system is changing in the current scenario, here is how a skill-based curriculum is different from a knowledge-based curriculum.

By Sunil Dahiya

In recent times there has been a lot of discussions on laying more emphasis on skilling rather than on classroom education in our educational ecosystem. Though both are important, skilling is rapidly taking Center-stage across the world as the world economy expands rapidly both in volume and newer technologies.

It is, therefore, all the more important now for countries to focus more on skilling the youth population. In India, we already have the National Skill Mission in place to help create the road map to skill the population of the country.

There needs to be a clear understanding of the difference between skill-based education and knowledge-based education. Academics-oriented education helps in understanding the concepts behind the technology or science but skill development helps in creating solutions and products.

This is why many skilling domain experts strongly promote real-world-based skill development rather than training the students in classrooms and labs. In simple words, education (especially at the post-schooling level) should be skill-based and not only knowledge-oriented. As the great Chinese thinker, Confucius said, “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand”.

Skill-based vs Knowledge-based education

Skill-based education is experiential and follows the simple principle of ‘learning by doing’ as practised in real-life situations. Therefore, it differentiates from the conventional theoretical approach, and instead, focuses on the traits of the individual. On the other hand, knowledge-based education involves a greater focus on books.

Education is important, but skill is necessary. We need hands-on skills for the simple reason that bookish knowledge can help us taste only limited success. For example, when we are learning science, we often perform experiments in the lab simply because it is a well-known fact real-world knowledge is gained in real-life situations.

Today, acquiring skill isn’t just a technique; it is the very basic art of survival. Skills signify the dire need of the hour as it is the backbone of the country. People with skill-based education are better learners as they have learned from experience and continually keep adding inputs to their knowledge bank.

Skilling in higher education

Currently, the higher education students need to attend classroom sessions followed by hands-on practice at designated labs and few visits to shop floors and workshops. This needs to change. A beginning can be made by focussing more on hands-on training rather than educating the students in classrooms and labs.

By hands-on training, I mean giving them real-life experience in machine workshops and shop floors. This can be affected by attaching institutions with relevant industries. For example, students of automobile engineering can gain hands-on experience on the shop floor of an automobile company.

Similarly, students of hotel management can complete their diploma by working at the hotel attached to the institution. In other words, a student will spend a major part of his study tenure with real-world experience.

Going forward

To take this pedagogy model forward will require sustained efforts from academia, industry, and the government, which are as follows-

  • Industry: Industry has to come forward and convert the college lab to production floors so that the students learn about the value chain on an end-to-end basis. For this to happen, the industry will need to build shop floors and mini-workshops at the institute itself.
  • Academia: Academia has to be open to adopting a curriculum with lots of hands-on practice and a model where the students can have a five-day real-world practice and one day of the classroom session for concepts. So the whole chain of pedagogy and methodology needs to be focussed on by academia. It will mean changes in the curriculum and methodology.
  • Government: To ensure the implementation of the above-mentioned points, policy intervention by the govt. will enable the academia and industry to set up the infrastructure and curriculum. The govt. will also need to amend the Apprenticeship Act to allow easy internships and incentivise the industry and academia to give easy apprenticeship to students. For this, the new education policy should come up with attractive incentives and internship policies for the industry, academia as well as students.

Source: India Today

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