Our school curriculum is mostly academic-based and the textbooks contain only theories and logic which are not always applicable in our daily life. In addition to geography, history, science, economics and language studies, there are many things we need to know which are equally important for our success and wellbeing. But sadly, it seems we are missing them in our school curricula today. I may not be absolutely right but I feel following are some of the things we should learn while we are in the school in addition to existing subjects.
Our children are always taught not to indulge in violence and they are being punished for taking part in any such activities in the school. But as a matter of fact, many junior students are being bullied and harassed by their senior friends everyday in our schools many of which escape unnoticed as the victims do not report the matter to their teachers for fear that the accused might further torture them. On the other hand, they are not equipped with skills and knowledge to defend themselves against such attacks and hence, they always remain vulnerable and weak. I feel self-defense is a very important tool to protect oneself against brutal external interferences in the school environment and beyond. Our children are never taught to fight back either physically or intellectually in the school and hence, when they are caught in the situation, they easily fall victim to their attackers. The ‘fight or flight’ instinct guides them to some extent but they need more techniques and knowledge to deal with the situation effectively and get out of the way safely. Self-defense can not only protect them physically but it would also help them boost their self-confidence and self-esteem which are very important for long-term success and wellbeing.
Bhutan is vulnerable to many types of natural disasters: floods, landslides, earthquakes and fires. Yet I think there is not a single chapter in our textbooks that teaches our children to deal with them properly. Following the 2009 earthquake which killed a few people in Eastern Bhutan, officials from the Department of Disaster Management initiated public awareness campaigns on how to remain safe during such calamities but I don’t think their messages rang loud enough for many kids in the schools. Despite a few practical demonstrations for school children on how to deal with earthquakes, nothing was added to their prescribed textbooks to reinforce what they have been taught and as a result, many children seem to have forgotten it. So, I strongly feel that our children need to be equipped with adequate skills and knowledge to escape from all natural disasters including fires, floods and earthquakes.
Let us just imagine that a child chokes and faints while having lunch in the school. How much are his teachers and other students prepared to save this kid? The need for first-aids comes here. I feel everybody in the school must be familiar with first-aids so that the students would be able to save themselves as well as their friends from injuries or sickness not only during school hours but throughout their life. First-aids is an important tool that can guide both helpers and helpees to respond to emergencies effectively. When I was in class 6, there was a chapter in Science on how to respond to snake-bites. You would be surprised to know that this particular chapter helped my brother-in-law save his youngest sister when she was beaten by snake at home. Recollecting what he learned, he tied her leg at the thigh tightly with a rope and that gave them enough time to reach her to hospital on time. Likewise, it’s very important that we include these skills and knowledge somewhere in our curriculum so that our children will be fully equipped to deal with all types of emergency situations.
Life skill education
Life skills are another set of important skills that can ensure long-term success and satisfying social life. But apart from occasional workshops, I don’t think it is prescribed in any textbook so far. The ten core life skills (self-awareness, effective communication, Decision-making, empathy, coping with emotions, coping with stress, conflict resolution, creative thinking, critical thinking and interpersonal relationship( prepare a person fully to respond to any kind of situation and help him lead a productive life. Many people, especially youth, are killing themselves today just because they are not able to cope with the situation they are in, and I feel if they are equipped with those life skills to manage their stress and deal with problems effectively, some lives could be saved.
Every year, we hear news about at least one or two school children being washed away by swollen rivers or being hit by cars while crossing roads. Whenever such news comes, I just wonder how long we would go on counting the number of deaths from such avoidable accidents. Keeping this in mind, I feel our schools should also focus on educating our children on personal safety so that they can be safe all the time. It would be more effective if it’s included as part of a regular lesson rather than making occasional announcements during the morning assembly. It’s important for children to know not to go to swim in the rivers, or play near the swollen rivers, or walk in the middle of the road, or play with fires. My son who studies in grade 3 has a short chapter in his EVS textbook on road safety and I feel it’s a very good idea. But it should be definitely reinforced in higher classes as well so that they would be always conscious of what they have learned. If our education system should be really wholesome in its approach to producing a perfect child, I feel all those aspects of daily life must be incorporated into the existing curricula because school is the only place that provides a perfect learning environment for the entire generation of the country.