General Skills for Effective Adult Citizenship

It is expected that schools will develop in their students general skills broader than the prescribed curriculum which are crucial to their growth toward effective adult citizenship. All good schools encourage their students to take part in declamations and debates, to write for the school magazine and to take part in activities such as the annual day of the school. For developing communication skills in their students, schools consciously organize these activities. But, the general observation is that students are under stress to perform well in examinations, particularly in the public examinations held by the Boards of School Education. As these examinations are administered to a vast number of students, they are impersonal and cannot assess individual skills. Its consequence is that the learning of the students gets skewed to the requirements of the examinations and tends to become bookish. It is well accepted that the mere knowledge of facts is seldom adequate for coping with real life situations. When students are asked whether the 10 years of the general education or the additional two years of higher secondary education has given them the skills required for their viability in the society, the common answer is "No." In such a situation, students hope that the next stage of education will help in developing skills required for making them productive citizens. This has resulted in clamour for professional education, failing which students demand access to the general tertiary education. Mismatch between the availability of professional education and the demand for it has contributed to commercialization of education and in disillusionment in the youth.

The other cause of concern is that in India only a fraction of the population in the age group of 15 to 19 years is getting secondary and senior secondary education in schools. When even the young persons belonging to this privileged group lack the confidence to survive on the strength of what they have learnt, a doubt arises on the relevance of the curriculum and the effectiveness of its transaction. Schools will therefore have to assume greater responsibility for developing survival skills in their students than merely of ensuring their good performance in the public examinations. In this context it is necessary to have a clear understanding of relevant life skills that schools should be able to develop in each student at different stages of school education. The development of the general skills in students by schools will necessarily be through the transaction of the course curriculum. However, now the emphasis of the teaching-learning in schools have to be on the development in students the skills that are needed for effective adult citizenship. We can probably all agree that language skill, computational skill, problem solving skill, technological skill, social skill and so on will be crucial for effective adult citizenship. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the urgency of identifying the skills and their level for different stages of school education. For a realistic identification of the required general skills it will be crucial that all stakeholders in student’s growth collectively apply their mind.

Involvement of teachers with this task will be important for they will be responsible for the attainment of these skills by each student. At the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), Bikaner, the students of the *secondary teacher certificate* course carried out an exercise on identification of essential competencies that can be developed in each child through primary education. Their innovative effort is a trendsetter. The abilities identified by the would-be teachers that they thought they would be able to develop in each child through five years of primary education have been given in the accompanying paper entitled, " Essential Competencies through Primary Education." Similar exercises may have to be done for the other stages of school education.

The author has refelected on his interactions with practising teachers and on his own experiences to formulate the general skills expected after ten years of schooling using a general education curriculum. A list of life skills that each student should have acquired on reaching class 10 has been given in the following. It is not exhaustive and in only illustrative.

Each student should be able to:

- read editorials of newspapers and comprehend their key ideas.
- read popular magazines like the Reader’s Digest and be able to paraphrase their articles in his/her own words.
- tell in her/his words the headlines and the news stories after listening to the radio news.
- speak for five minutes on a contemporary topic.
- write description of events from daily life in five hundred words.
- calculate prices from rates, percentages, interests both simple and compound, area of plane figures such as triangles, rectangles and circles, and volume of cubes, cylinders and spheres.
- solve linear equations in two variables.
- interpret and analyse data given in figures, tables, bar charts and graphs.
- arrange given data in tables, bar charts, graphs and pi-charts.
- measure lengths, weights, area of surfaces, and volume of liquids in appropriate decimal units.
- measure body temperature using clinical thermometer, room and water temperatures using appropriate thermometers.
- fix electrical fuse using appropriate fuse wire.
- select appropriate domestic electric outlet (5 Amp/ 15 Amp) for connecting household electrical appliances such as an iron, room heater, immersion rod, toaster, geyser, TV, refrigerator etc.
- adjust the float valve in water closet.
- install safely LPG cylinder.
- replace washer in water taps.
- use solar cooker.
- (if access to computer is available) key-in text using word-processor software such as MS Word, mlog into Internet and browse and download information of interest, send and receive messages using e-mail.
- respect others and discharge his/her responsibilities.
- do group work.
- exhibit tolerance for others’ point of view differing from her/his own.
- show compassion to all forms of life and have empathy for persons in difficulty.
- prevent pollution of environment by his/her actions.
- confide in parents and teachers.

Each student should be helped in attaining these skills during the 10 years of the general education. The list given above is illustrative and should be suitably adapted by each school in consultation with the parents and the teachers. Some of the concerns expressed in this paper might appear alarming at the first reading. But if the aim of education is to equip the youth with skills required for assuming leadership in the changing global context, the challenge is to meet it by reoragnising the school processes. Otherwise, we shall become a nation at risk, and our children might complain that in spite of the hard work put in by them they feel like being square pegs in round holes.

As an illustrative example of a tool for measuring general educational development, a set of questions for evaluating computational abilities has been prepared. These are given in the appendix. Suitable tools may have to be developed for measuring each skill.

COMPUTATIONAL ABILITY

Computations using fundamental operations

1. The cost of a half ticket is just the half of the full fare. If the cost of one full ticket from Delhi to Kanpur is Rs. 140 and reservation charges for each ticket is Rs. 15, find the cost of 2 full and 3 half tickets.

2. A person distributes Rs. 60,000 among three persons. If the share of the first is 1/3, the share of the second is ¼, find the amount which the third person gets.

3. The effective strength of the Lok Sabha that is represented by four parties is 545. The number of MPs representing four parties namely A, B, C & D is 143, 151, 121 and 130 respectively. In order to form a stable government; state the possible combinations of two party alliances.

Computation of ratio and proportion

- Three persons arrange a party and decide to contribute Rs. 360. If they contribute their share in the ratio of 2:3:5, find the share of each person.
- Mr. X cycled from A to B at the uniform speed of 20 km/h and returned from B to A at a speed of 30 km/h. Find his average speed for the complete journey.
- A can complete a job in 10 days whereas A and B together complete the same job in 6 days. In how many days B alone can complete the same job?

Computation of Percentages

1. A man sells two articles each for Rs. 99. He gains 10% on one and loses 10% on the other. Find his gain or loss percent in the entire transaction.

2. In measuring the side of a square, an error of 5% in excess is made. Find the error percentage in the measurement of its area.

3. An article is marked for Rs. 240. If the rate of sales tax is 8%, how much a customer has to pay for it?

4. The marked price of an article is Rs. 300. The shopkeeper gives a discount of 15%. Due to off-season, a further discount of 10% is offered. Find the selling price of the article.

Computation of Interest

1. If a sum becomes Rs. 2800 in 2 years and 3250 in 5 years at simple interest, find the sum and the rate of interest.

2. A machine depreciates at the rate of 10% per annum. If its present value is Rs. 10,000. What will be its value at the end of 3 years?

Computation of area and volume

1. A farmer wants to level his field, the length of which is 120m and breadth 80m. The cost of levelling the field is Rs. 20 per square metre. Find the total cost of levelling the field.

2. The length, breadth and height of a room are 6m, 5m and 4m, respectively. It has 3 doors of the dimension of 2m x 1.50m and 4 windows, each of the dimension of 1.5m x 1.2m. The walls of the room and roof are to be white washed. If the contractor charges Rs. 15 per square metre, find the cost of white washing.

ABILITY TO ANALYSE TABULAR DATA

Read the following table and answer the following questions.

**Table**: Export of cotton textiles for different years

Year |
Export (In crores) |

1982 |
300 |

1983 |
316 |

1984 |
450 |

1985 |
400 |

1986 |
600 |

1987 |
820 |

- By how many times did the export increase in 1983 over 1982?
- Indicate the year in which the increase in export over the preceding year was the largest?
- Indicate the year in which the export turnover was the least over that of the preceding year?
- Find the average export from 1982 to 1987.

**Index Page of Articles of Professor A. N. Maheshwari**