Moving from “what to learn” to “how to learn” and “how to solve problems”
By Mridula Shridhar
Employability refers to the attributes—ability to understand, process, perform and think—that help a person gain and maintain a job. Employees who reflect, reason and act are an asset to any organisation. Progressive employment typically requires upskilling (ability to learn more) and reskilling (ability to adapt).
Research has found that when children (under the age of six) are exposed to quality learning, it sets an academic foundation, and also makes them thinkers, decision makers, self-learners, socially-adept, able to enjoy challenges and resolve issues better—all of which are needed to make them employable when they grow up.
In fact, a study by Nobel laureate James Heckman found that a high-quality early childhood intervention boosted the earnings of severely disadvantaged children in Jamaica by 25%, 20 years later.
So, what all must a healthy early education programme include?
The emphasis of our early education system has to be on making learners interested in learning, making them “able to learn.” We need to move from “what to learn” to “how to learn” and “how to solve problems.” This can be achieved far more easily in early years than at any other age. A healthy early education programme includes:
- A vibrant environment with more stimulation and less interference;
- A curriculum that allows each child to explore and discover;
- Primarily practical learning, followed by theoretical reinforcement;
- Teachers who are well-trained on curriculum, methods and tools;
- Assessment techniques that are objective and easy to translate.
Even the UN India has vouched for the same: In its note on Priority Areas in India: Education and Employability, it had written: “For the RTE Act and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be realised, it is essential that children receive quality, early childhood education to lay the foundation for lifelong learning.”
A challenge we face is that about one-third children do not go to school in early years. When they enter primary schools directly, without a quality preschool foundation, they are not fully school-ready, and are more likely to drop out. At 400 million, we have the largest child population in the world (below 14). If we can give children the right early foundation, we can be the most employable nation a few years later.
-The author is co-founder & director, Kreedo Early Childhood Solutions