Building competencies for future readiness


Arti Chopra | Principal, Amity International School, Sector 46, Gurugram


Arti Chopra is a dedicated educationist with over 28 years of experience in the field of education as a teacher, mentor, trainer, planner and skill-developer. She is an alumnus of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University and has had been associated with leading institutions like Bal Bharti Public School, Delhi; Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya, Jaipur and Lawrence School, Ooty in her career


Besides her teaching experience Arti has administrative experience of 15 years as Principal in a few promising schools. Presently, she is the Principal at Amity International School, Sector 46, Gurgaon.

 

“The best way to predict future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln


It is a common belief that with the help of the eternal power of thought, dreams can be manifested into reality, and if we see it in today’s perspective, it is possible only if the learners are provided competency-based education. The word competency has begun to be used lately, more frequently to provide a wider spectrum to quality education, by including not only knowledge and skills, but also attitude. It is crucial that schools of this millennium respect competency & outcome-based education for future readiness, and incorporate them in their entire ecosystem- right from students to teachers, parents, school management and the community. The school leaders could reorient themselves to impart life skills, using technology to integrate learnings of head, heart and hand.


An important consideration, while defining skills and competencies relates to the definition of the terms, ‘skills’ and ‘competence’ and how they relate to each other. One useful distinction between the two is provided by the OECD’s DeSeCo project: A competence is more than just knowledge or skills. It involves the ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobilising psychosocial resources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context. For example, the ability to communicate effectively is a competence that may draw on an individual’s knowledge of language, practical IT skills and attitudes towards those with whom he or she is communicating (Rychen & Salganik, 2003).


Competency consists of three interrelated parts: a knowledge component (the understanding part), behavioural components (the overt behavioural part) and a value component (the values, beliefs and attitudes). Teaching and learning strategies need to match the appropriate domains of learning.


The skills and competencies can be grouped into three different categories as follows:


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) functional skills, that include skills relevant to mastering the use of different ICT applications, like fundamentals, using email software and internet, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation and database.


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills for learning, which include skills that combine both cognitive abilities or higher-order thinking skills with functional skills for the use and management of ICT applications. In addition to technical skills, associated skills include creativity and analytical skills to apply the right ICT skill to an activity.


21st century skills which bring together skills considered necessary in the knowledge society but where the use of ICT is not a necessary condition. They can be thought of in terms of three parts: information, communication and ethics and social impact.


a. Information component - Typical skills in this dimension are research and problem-solving skills, as they both involve at some point defining, searching for, evaluating, selecting, organising, analysing, and interpreting information. The learners need to understand to differentiate between information and knowledge.


b. Communication component - Effective communication requires information and media literacy. Critical thinking and communication are skills that belong to this sub-dimension. Collaboration and virtual interaction are an example for providing constructive feedback through critical reflection on others’ work. The necessary skills required are collaboration/team work, flexibility and adaptability to the changing situations.


c. Ethics and social impact component- Due to globalisation, multiculturism is developing that requires users to refrain from using language, that could be derogatory. The concept of digital and global citizenship, with understanding and acceptance of other’s culture, opinions and ideas need to be a part of school curriculum.



The 21st-century schools need to create innovative learning environments; and

provide ubiquitous access to technology in classrooms. Some of the necessary attributes

required to hone up future ready competency-based teaching are-


  • learn how the learners process learning

  • integrate the concepts of learning and teaching

  • teachers to be facilitators and co-learners

  • learners to practice humility, respect, critical thinking and caring at all times

  • support acquisition of knowledge, skills and professional behaviours in cognitive, psychomotor, affective learning domains

  • learning to be self-driven, learner takes responsibility and is accountable for it

  • active feedback system, self-assessment and the attitude to unlearn and relearn

  • personalise learning experiences

  • motivated to learn – goal oriented


A rich learning environment is enabled through competency-based learning, leading students to engage in meaningful learning processes. Some of the ways in which competencies for future readiness can be built are:


Meaningful contexts- A natural way shall be explored by the teachers so that the students can experience the relevance, enhancing their curiosity, and move away from the concept of rote learning.


Multidisciplinary approach- The learning shall not be confined to a subject but shall be holistic in nature.


Constructive learning- The learners should be engaged in a process of constructing their own knowledge by interaction with their environment, focusing on the construction of models, products, guidelines and reports.


Cooperative or interactive learning (with peers, teachers.) This requires an open approach in which education includes dialogues between learners and educators about expectation, needs, goals,choices, etc.


Discovery learning - The method of acquiring knowledge would be inquiry and research based.


Reflective learning - As the learner reflectson their own needs, motivation, approach, progress, results, etc. they develop learning competences that may be considered “learning to learn”.


Teachers too need to acquire competencies and hone their skills. Some of them are- field, research and curriculum competencies, Lifelong Learning Competencies, Social-Cultural Competencies, Emotional Competencies, Communication Competencies, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Competencies and Environmental Competencies.


To turn the school into a center of excellence, the school Principals too need to bring in visible changes around them. Those include relevant curricula, well-trained teachers, use of appropriate instructional strategies, support and collegiality of teachers and the needed infrastructure for ICT capacity building and training.


The New Education Policy 2020, recognises the need to evaluate ‘higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity’, indicating a shift in the focus of assessments. The policy putsIndia on track to achieve Goal 4 (SDG4) of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. A set of learner-oriented skills and competencies that takes cognizance of teacher capacity building too, shall surely prepare our students on the path of lifelong learningwith excellence.