Holistic education and our way forward: The tale of Kक्षा (Kaksha)
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
– Margaret Fuller
The biggest and the brightest of the world believe in the power of the written word much more than any other form of knowledge. The ‘idiot box’ so named has received terrible standing, and for many many reasons - may they be physical, emotional, social but said box is now taking over the world with our increasingly uncertain situation, and bringing to us issues, and possible solutions that are warranted.
English as a unifier and barrier:
As per UNESCO, 773 million adults and young people lack basic literacy skills. How do we define literacy? Literacy has traditionally been thought of as reading and writing. Although these are essential components of literacy, today our understanding of literacy encompasses much more. Alberta Education defines literacy as the ability, confidence and willingness to engage with language to acquire, construct and communicate meaning in all aspects of daily living. Language is explained as a socially and culturally constructed system of communication. Literacy in India is determined by a person reading and writing their name which by no means or standard could be a real estimate of a literate individual.
It becomes pertinent to understand the how and why of a literate individual living in India in 2020:
The correct way of imparting literacy across the world is through the same way, as we teach any language: we start the process by a person listening, reading, talking, and writing in the language a person aims to master.
In a country like India, where according to the Lok Foundation survey, English is far more urban than a rural phenomenon; just 3% of rural respondents said that they could speak English, as against 12% of urban respondents. There is a clear class element at work—41% of the rich could speak English as against less than 2% of the poor. The disparity between the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated become evident just by learning about the disparity between the state-recognised second language and the number of people who truly know and comprehend the said language. While looking at some upper-class homes, you would notice parents speaking to their children in fluent English, and encouraging their children to possibly only converse in English- you would notice the same being close to impossible with low-income households where reading and writing in their mother tongue might be a struggle.
To provide some data to substantiate the problem, according to the Lok Foundation and Oxford University, administered by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy along with the 2011 Census data- only between 6-10% people speak in English while the rising unemployment rates, the need for an educated and robust workforce along with a strong skill set requires the skills to communicate effectively, and to be a curious, lifelong learner.
Changes in policy:
With many people talking about the much-awaited changes that are going to be brought about in India with the New Education Policy of 2020, it becomes important to note that such extensive changes cannot be brought about using the ammunition of the past.
Here it becomes important to note that according to a youth survey conducted across India in 2019, it was found that 72 percent of the respondents had not read a book outside their curriculum in the previous week from the date of the survey. At the same time, 27 percent of the youth respondents reported having read an extra-curriculum book over a month back, according to Sandhya Keelery in a report published in May 2020.
Looking at these numbers, they seem to be alarming in isolation as well- but if you take a moment to think about it further they tell a much more alarming story which is only heightened coupled with the fact that we have been living in lockdown with most students, educators and schools still grappling with the arduous learning curve of online learning- students are learning less and less in the process with the gaps in learning and economic conditions only worsening by the day. The youth today is complacent with where they are, what they’re learning and the content being taught to them. Educators are drowning with administrative tasks, and getting used to systems and processes that have never existed before to focus on, and lack training for newer and innovative ways of learning.
With the NEP recognising that the way we are taught, and what we are teaching our youth is not good enough there are some clear changes- of actions and mindset that need to be made:
“In the education system, the three critical elements are teachers, students, and the ecosystem of the school such as infrastructure, play arrangements, facilities, and the institution. To encourage creative thinking in students, particularly first-generation learners, the teacher is the most critical component, guiding, encouraging and challenging students”, as written by Satya Narayan Mohanty, and this becomes our reason for existence.
Studies empirically show that government teachers are better educated and trained, and if they are made to teach, they yield better results relative to average private school teachers. But for business-as-usual, that is. A complete redesign is important for the new model of education that we are pursuing.
Life-long learners, unite!
With Kक्षा Learning, we aim to upskill each child and educator we come across with our focus on literacy and to do so in the most holistic, agile, and fun way possible. As we grow older, we realise the importance of stories: as every human being is trying to create a legacy or story to leave behind for other people to learn from (read: TedX talks across the world), and to do so in the most relatable and fun way (read: social media). Similar characteristics need to be brought into the realm of education as well- it needs to be relatable, engaging, transformative, and flexible.
At Kक्षा, we create comprehensive and rigorous curricula based on novels that are deeply rooted in experiential learning. We aim to build knowledge, skills, mindsets, values and awareness, and expression in students and make learning a fun and holistic process at the same time. Educators sign-up with us to receive our resources and execute them in their classrooms. We truly want our vision coming alive in everything we do and aspire to leverage the power of stories through novels to create aware and expressive individuals who are eager to learn.
Kक्षा was born to ease the life of educators around us, to teach our youth better. As we taught in low-income schools in Delhi and saw how an Educator has to single-handedly struggle to gather basic resources and create resources for their classroom. We are constantly trying to come up with ways to aid Educators better, and we hope to understand your view-point a bit using this form as an aid in the process: https://bit.ly/Curriculum_satisfaction_survey
Please comment below and let us know what you think about the required changes in the curriculum, or message us for a more detailed conversation!