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Acquisition of social emotional skills among school students low: CSSL Report

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The Centre for Science of Student Learning (CSSL), a Delhi-based nonprofit organization, has released a collection of five reports on the “Acquisition of Cognitive and Affective skills in schools across India.”  The reports are based on a 5-year study that measured the holistic well-being and success of students on four aspects such as their social-emotional skills, their positive attitude, their academic achievement and their school climate. The study was conducted in 2 phases, studied students, teachers, Principals, and parents of both Government and ‘Top’ Private schools.

The findings released on December 6, 2022 in New Delhi show that across schools’ the levels of acquisition of social emotional skills such as understanding how they or others would feel, how one can change how they feel and behave in different situations is low. Based on the data collected, the study for the first time in India proves that social, emotional skills and school climate are positively related to a student’s academic success. Relationship skill was found to be the weakest skill for both Government and Private school students in all classes. Girls were found to have better SEL skills compared to Boys.

In both Government schools and ‘top’ private schools, students exhibit a high level of rote learning, while they are able to handle procedural questions they falter if these questions were slightly atypical or complex. The students in both government and ‘top’ private schools do not view their schools as safe, secure places conducive to learning.

The 360 Degree Attitude Audit discusses the attitude of students, parents and teachers towards self, others, school activities and social aspects. The male respondents were found to be more traditional and discriminatory than the female respondents, and the attitudes of students were extremely similar to that of their parents in social aspects such as gender, caste, citizenship and school activities.

The report in-depth discusses many other aspects of social-emotional skills and how it shapes the holistic well-being of students and concludes with several recommendations such as cognitive behaviour group therapy, mindfulness training, teacher training, value education, and inculcating higher order thinking skills.

The study covered about 34648 students, 1354 teachers, 553 principals, 4483 parents from 572 government schools and 2627 students, 98 teachers, 33 principals and 379 parents from 26 ‘top’ private schools. The study is the first of its kind in India and globally. Vyjayanthi Sankar, Founder and Executive Director of CSSL said, “Such a comprehensive exercise on understanding cognitive and affective skills has not been done so far in any country. The study is not only bringing clarity on what cognitive and affective skills we need to address in schools, but also on how we can reliably measure them in large school systems. We hope that the committee working on the National Curricular framework takes cognizance of the study findings.”

During the launch Anil Swarup, former school education secretary, GoI, while delivering his keynote address observed, “ I don’t think anyone can deny the importance of the aspects that have been highlighted in this report. There is now clear proof that an emotionally intelligent person has a greater chance of doing well in cognitive skills also. It is important first to appreciate the importance and the necessity of what is being said here and then work out a strategy on how to ensure that the emotional quotient improves, and attitude becomes positive. I hope the public and private schools will work towards this.”

The study was supported by the Netherlands based Porticus Foundation.

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