Importance of practical based learning in Kerala’s current scenario

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By Education Today

Posted on April 6, 2022


7 min read

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Importance of practical based learning in Kerala’s current scenario

“Knowledge without practice is useless. Practice without knowledge is dangerous” 

   – Confucius

Dr. Joseph Parackal

Kerala is ranked as the most literate state in the country. Schools and colleges are either run by government or private trusts. There is over 1400+ schools, 1000+ colleges and 6 universities in Kerala. Students after 10 years of secondary schooling, can opt for liberal arts, commerce or science streams to further their studies thereafter. According to the NIRF ranking, Kerala university and MG university are among the top 30 universities of India. A survey conducted in 2020 states that 20 colleges in Kerala are ranked under the top 100 colleges of India.There are a numerous number of courses available for graduation and post graduation in Kerala. There is a wide range of courses to pursue after the higher secondary classes. Students can select courses according to their interests and skills. Even though the state has the highest literacy rate, Kerala faces the problem of unemployment among the youth. The Periodic Labour Force Survey of 2020 estimates that the joblessness among youth between the age of 15 and 29 years in the state is 40.5%, which is more than the national average of 21%. One of the main reasons for this issue is the absence of practical based learning in the syllabus.

There is a major difference between theoretical based learning and practical based learning. While analysing the curriculum followed by the state, it is clear that the practice based professional learning in the syllabus is comparatively less than the theoretical based learning. Passionate students found this system inappropriate because they won’t be able to utilise their skills in the academics since it is based on ranks and marks, they will get for theory papers. In fact Kerala’s system of education follows a pattern where it gives more importance to theories, says Rev. Dr. Joseph Parackal, principal of St Joseph College of Communication, the first university affiliated Media College in South India. Even though Kerala has the highest literacy rate, there is a dilemma of unemployment. Absence of Frequent updation in the curriculum is one of the main reasons. Practical based learning is a necessary component that every student must learn. Students must have a clear idea on what they are studying. Students must learn not only from classrooms, but also they must learn how to apply the theories in daily life. They must acquire industrial experience along with theoretical knowledge. There is the need for timeous updates in the syllabus as the world is changing rapidly. Updating our curriculum to an international standard will make students continue their studies here in the state rather than pursuing them abroad. To meet the issue of unemployment, more industries and startups must be promoted in Kerala. There must be opportunities to make use of skilled workers inside the state itself, concluded Rev. Dr. Joseph Parackal.

Dr. Chacko Jose

Supervision of the government is obligatory in this issue – observes Dr. Chacko Jose, the Associate Professor and Head of the Economics department at Sacred Heart College, Chalakudy who is also a research guide at Calicut university. Even though the government sanctioned the policies for resolving the issue on including more practical based learning in the syllabus, there hasn’t been any progress in the government order. New education policy discusses this topic. A student must be given practical based learning like internships and working in firms, which is currently limited to just a number of papers. Lack of practical education results in unemployment, as the recruiters look for result oriented candidates with academic backing. Graduates with not much practical experience take time to perform better in their career as they are analysed based on their skills and not merit alone. According to Dr. Chacko, a revolutionary change in this matter is distant. Students must be aware of what they are learning and the purpose of learning. They must figure out what is their prime motive after the studies. Whether it is a job or further education, they must choose wisely. As a professor, Dr. Chacko criticises that only a limited number of students have the idea about what they are learning. He suggests that there must be a change in the pedagogy. The curriculum must be changed. There must be more combinations of subjects to be included in the syllabus. One must study the theory and practical in the same proportion. He concludes by saying that autonomous colleges in Kerala can improve their syllabus as they have the right to select the papers for courses. If there are authorities with vision, they can bring a change. Because it won’t be possible to make changes in the state as a whole which has more than 1000 colleges.

Ms. Maria Dominic

Social media influencer Ms. Maria Dominic, shares her opinion on this issue through a conversation with Education Today. As a parent she too agrees with the importance of practical learning in institutions. Children should be taught about things they have to face in life situations from their school education itself. But the main thing is that the responsibility is not completely up to the state as there are private owned institutions and there will be complication in changing the syllabus as a whole. She suggests that the syllabus or study materials should focus more on making students familiarise themselves with everyday applications. Practical knowledge in economics, finance, business, or preparing for a pandemic must also be taught to children along with other materials. Students must be trained in having reasonable skills which   is a necessity

P.K Abdul Kareem

P.K Abdul Kareem, Economic adviser at Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi shares some solutions for this matter of issue. He says that practical learning helps to generate opportunities for employment. The changes must be made in the curriculum. At present it takes a great deal of time to make amendments to the school and college curriculum. He exemplifies a situation of understanding the demand conditions in global markets or Indian industry. In addition to the demand conditions, we need to give skill training to students and equip them to market. These sorts of methods help in developing practical learning among the students. He also mentions the need for startup initiatives. Imparting skill training in schools and colleges is also a solution. The new education policy (2020) must be implemented effectively, he says.

Mr. Vinay Mathew John,

the Chief Training Officer of ASAP(Additional Skill Acquisition Programme) Community Skill Park, Perumbavoor makes some observations in this light. Experiential learning for the Gen-Z (people who were born between 1995-2010) is very important. Because they need fresh and intuitive, discovery-based, challenging, activity-oriented, technology learning. Practical based learning makes students understand more about what they are learning and its purpose. Teachers must be educators. People of the present generation have more access to knowledge than before. They can access everything they need to know at just a click away.

All the above discussions and opinions point to the fact that both the Theory and practical are important for the learning process. The future progress of students will be limited if they are not aware of the external world and current status of their field of study. Skill based education makes each student explore themselves. Effective learning makes them empowered. Mindfulness about the contemporary world makes one enthusiastic. Furthermore, all these factors contribute to developing one’s personality. Added to this is the fact that the primary objective of all education is to gain knowledge and not to earn a certificate. Thus, to wrap it up, it would be best to remember the words of Thomas Fuller, “Knowledge is a treasure but practice is the key to it”!