Millennium Post

Every problem in the country is because of poor education: Dy CM

Every problem in the country is because of poor education: Dy CM

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia talks about his passion for reforming the education system in the state and the unique Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum and Happy Mindset Curriculum that has put the national Capital on a global platform. In an exclusive interview with Aaisha Sabir of Millennium Post, Sisodia shares his journey while en route to Rajkiya Prathibha Vikas Vidyalaya to interact with young minds and take feedback on the various programmes run by the AAP-led Delhi Government.

Excerpts:

Education has become a talking point for AAP of late but initially it wasn't so...

Education was always a talking point for the AAP. In fact, when the AAP came to power briefly in 2013, I chose education as my portfolio. I had requested the CM at that time to give this department to me as I wanted to work in the field of education.

Why Education?

I personally feel that a lot of problems that you face today in the country or society is because of lack of education. We had to work on both aspects of this. The places where we provide education or what are the missing elements. Providing good facilities is an administrative issue however, to provide good facilities and quality education, is where I was working specifically before the AAP's movement started. So when the education department came I was eager for it and from the beginning we were serious about the education portfolio.

Education in itself is a problem you said, what do you mean by it? And is that the reason why you started Happy Classes? What was the concept behind it?

There are two things. One is trying to fix the problem in the field of education and the other is fixing the problems of society through education. There are problems in education like infrastructure, teachers, their dignity, basic and modern facilities. We have provided minimum modern facilities however, I can't say we have provided all the modern facilities. So this is fixing the problem of education. But the second part of our job is fixing the problem of the nation through education. The entire mindset now is reactionary, hatred intolerance, for example, at a red light if someone has moved up people break into a fight instantly. This intolerance reflects everywhere– in offices, homes and other places. Happiness class is the solution to that. The second bit is the nation's economy. We have so far used education to earn a living. What I have observed is that people have this mindset that if we get good education then we will get a good job, a good package. We have opened IIT, ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) too, skill development and making professionals too. But, how will they contribute to the economy? Therefore, we created a lot of job seekers but where will the job providers come from, hence we started working on entrepreneurship classes. These two problems, one being interpersonal relationship—ultimately happiness is not about achieving more numbers in terms of marks or bank balances it is about people to people relationship which we are catering to from nursery to class VIII—then the ultimate purpose of education is to live your life happily and contribute to others so they too live happily. The mindset should not be that if I do this course I will get this pay or just this job but the idea should be if I take this job–How am I contributing to the larger picture, the larger economy of the country? To create this ideation process of perception in young minds we have implemented the entrepreneurship mindset classes.

How do you think Entrepreneurship Curriculum can help a student earn more?

It is either a job or your own business, both are based on your mindset. Success is the goal. You might have seen that whether it is a private or a government job, employees are focused on saving their jobs, that is not entrepreneurship mindset. The moment a person starts to contribute and their focus is only contribution and not saving their job the employer then will also not want to lose such an employee. The qualities of an employee are the way you present yourself and the way you communicate, it all matters and that is where entrepreneurship mindset classes come in. But that is not it, people these days have goals like– I will study and get a good job that is their parameter of success. That is unfortunate. After you get a degree there are two things you can do. You can do your own business or become an employee somewhere. There were many conversations about having your own business, we taught skills too, we focused on skill, but only giving skill to a person does not create a mindset of running your own business. Providing skill development courses creates a good job seeker but till the time the person does not have an entrepreneurship mindset then the skills are useless. A class XII child cannot open up his own business even though he has all the necessary skills because he doesn't have that mindset. We have been focusing on that mindset development. A student might have any skill be it English speaking or Hindi speaking how will he monetise it? Most people think to run a business you need lots of money but that is a myth. In this world, only those who did their own business successfully because they had a lot of money is not true but those who had the business mindset to become successful even with less money that is commendable.

When we talk of skill it is a three to a six-month affair but we are taking four years for this entrepreneurship mindset curriculum because it takes time. From classes IX-XII, when the mindset of a young adult is created good or bad, confident or not confident, job seeker or job provider this is a crucial period in a young mind and at this very age we want to change perceptions and hence we have introduced entrepreneurship mindset curriculum.

In India talking about mental health or mental happiness is still a taboo on many levels. Was it challenging to introduce happy classes in government schools? Also, was it difficult to convince your peers?

When you ask a person if they're happy the answer is yes, but the same person when they're alone might have suicidal thoughts or become sad. Small success or unsuccessful moments affects a person a great deal. Stressful moments may affect a person on many levels. Suicide necessarily might not be physical there is emotional suicide too, let's not forget that.

Here we are talking about small school children their levels of stress may differ, things that affect them will be different from what may affect an adult. Emotional mindset starts to develop right from the time of infancy. Nursery to XII children are drastically developing emotionally so we should guide the child and condition them at an early age.

Everyone said yes there is a need for this but people wondered if happiness could be taught…

It is very simple, basic needs being–should not a child concentrate on studies without any tension, shouldn't children have healthy relationships at home or bond well emotionally with those around them. My question was when did we try to do this? We tried to do small moral preaching saying this might bring happiness but moral science is not enough. Till the time you touch upon the emotional science of a child, it will not convert into happiness mindset.

Usually, I give the example of the story 'Satyawadi Harishchandra', through which we teach that telling the truth all the time is very important, it is nice to hear the story but ultimately the story has become of a joke among the adults, and they laugh at someone who is too honest. But if Satywadi Harishchandra can become a joke and parents often warn their child for being too simple and honest how do you expect a child to be honest in that case? In what situation does a child lie, where do such situations come from in a child to make the child resort to lying. We might preach that there should be love between siblings but the moment a candy comes into the picture siblings will fight over it. Through preaching it is not possible to teach children. What we are doing is using stories to influence them. For example, we narrate a story of a young girl carrying her younger brother up a hill, an adult approaches and says let me help you carry your brother you must be tired of carrying the burden. Ideally, the story ends when the girl says it may be a burden for you but to me, it is my younger brother. We begin a conversation with this — when did you feel a relationship was a burden to you? Then the child begins to think of his life then we encourage more insightful questioning like what if your mother thought you were a burden then what would happen. Such questionings help the child to open up.

The child starts recognising relationships around them and stops looking at others around them as a burden. Such conversations do not get over in one session but carry on for days till each child has spoken up.

Aaisha Sabir

Aaisha Sabir

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