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A skill is the ability to perform a task with utmost perfection. It is an important component of an individual’s personality. One purpose in acquiring education is to emerge as a skilled individual. No doubt there is an enormous enhancement in the literacy rate today, but students emerging out from the educational institutions are often equipped with more certificates and less skills. In today’s competitive world, employers are looking for skill-based employees rather than unskilled- and mere certificate-based employees or professionals. There is a saying that “Better go without medicine than call in an unskilled physician”.
Practice makes a person perfect. The present generation expects an immediate outcome in the form of handsome salary without putting efforts to learn new skills which the position or post demands. Many of our grand fathers and those before them did not know how to read and write but had great skills. This reminds me about Abraham Lincoln’s father’s shoe-making skills. He had made shoe-making an art. And Abraham Lincoln was proud of this because his father did the job so well that not even a single complaint had ever been heard.
The purpose of mentioning this story is to highlight the fact that no job is superior or inferior: it is only our own perception which elevates or degrades it in our mind.
There is a well known section in the Quran (chapter 28-AL-Qasas) that describes the story of the Prophet Moses and his interactions with two young women and their father. In a place called Madyan, the Prophet Moses saw two women struggling to water their sheep. So, he watered them. Then, one of the two women came to him and said, ‘My father is inviting you so he may reward you for watering our animals for us.’ When Moses came to him and told him his whole story, the old man said, “Have no fear! You are now safe from the wrongdoing people.” One of the two daughters suggested, “O my dear father! Hire him. The best man for employment is definitely the strong and trustworthy one.”Notice the two qualities that the women mentioned here: “strong and trustworthy”.
Talent without skill is like a desert without an oasis. So, when looking for talent, we should not always look for the most skillful: we should also look for character and trustworthiness.
The moral of this story takes me back to my school days when we used to have a handbook of moral science with short stories reflecting morals which are still imprinted in my mind.
The best gift to children from parents is proper education with skill and training. It is the need of the hour for parents and teachers to focus on skill-based education rather than mere bookish learning. There has to be a change in the school curriculum to incorporate and make mandatory the learning of important aspects of life, such as cooking, gardening, agriculture, sports, spirituality, technical work, etiquette and good manners and personality development. Awareness about significant happenings in the world, hygiene, writing, reading, storytelling, discussions on current issues etc. are also important for the overall development of the child.
This reminds me of my school days when we used to have a smaller number of books in our school-bag but learnt embroidery, knitting, cursive writing and religious studies, along with basic education.
I belong to the period when there were no things like computers, power-point presentations and online teaching. The methods adopted by our teachers to teach art of writing letters, composition, basic math and science are fresh in my mind. They developed a passion in me to become a lecturer.
Today, there exists a mismatch between skilled academic training and employment, which has broadened the gap to such an extent that the employers are unable to discover suitable trained workers while many youths are unable to find the jobs they aspire for. In this context, it is important to recognize that skills taught to the children at the right time and at appropriate stages of life can help them emerge as skill-based individuals. We need to bring reforms in the present educational system by introducing holistic and research-based education (more practical than theoretical, and synchronising body, mind and soul) to create a balance in the personal, professional, technical and social dimensions of an individual.
(The author is Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University College for Women, Osmania University, Hyderabad. She can be contacted on [email protected])