Students of classes 6 to 11 following India's Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will be studying three new skills courses from the 2020-2021 academic year.According to the board's latest notification, subjects like design-thinking, physical activity trainer and artificial intelligence are included in an effort "to make the new generation more creative, innovative and physically fit".The induction of these courses at the middle school level will enable students with the necessary knowledge, helping them to make informed choices about their careers by the time they reach higher classes, the CBSE has said.Welcoming the move, educationists in the UAE feel a well thought-out career enables pupils to utilise their skills perfectly in future.Zubair Ahmad, head HR & Administration, Springdales School Dubai, said: "A lot of these courses like AI and cognitive learning already exist in most schools. But to introduce these courses formally at the middle school level is an extraordinary vision. This will help in developing critical thinking and collaborative problem solving at an early level and would enable more thinking classrooms."Calling it a "forward-thinking move by CBSE", Michael Guzder, vice president - education at GEMS Education, said: "This is in line with the needs of the 21st-century learner. The CBSE has been quick to adapt to the new reality by offering skills-oriented courses for students and this augurs well for society and the world in general."He added: "Thousands of students graduate every year, but unfortunately some fall short of the skill sets required by the modern-day workplace. In this light, the move is certainly in the right direction. I am confident that innumerable parents and pupils are going to be relieved and happy at this new offering."Several principals also said the intent, implementation and impact on the curriculum will be enriching and enhancing, thereby supporting the framework of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)."The advanced learning impacted by AI and DT will propel the 'evolving mind of today' into an unprecedented future with expected success. They will have adequate cognitive and meta cognitive skills to use strategies effectively in their future learning and master the art and the science of problem solving. The perfection in future learning is now a visible reality," said Sangita Chima, principal at Amity School Dubai. Reflecting on the challenges, school heads are also simultaneously seeking specifications on teacher attributes and qualifications for such courses."We will need a more guided approach to the curriculum by the CBSE so that schools understand the learning outcomes and assessment strategies clearly," added Sangita Chima.
However, the CBSE notification further stated that the vocational course of skill course will be a short-duration module and teachers would have to spend only 12 hours of teaching time on these courses.
It's good for the future, say parentsWhile the Indian board tries to make a seamless integration between academic, curricular and extra-curricular learning, Khaleej Times reached out to parents to gauge their reactions.Nilanjana Deb, whose son is a Grade 9 student of the Indian High School Dubai, said: "The earlier these subjects are introduced to children, the better it is. It's often seen that students might have the marks, but they lack the skills to utilise them properly. My son loves AI, so it often helps students to understand at an early stage which is the subject they have a knack for."Another parent, Payal Benerjee whose son is a Grade 7 student of DPS Sharjah, said: "It's a really good initiative. This will enable more brainstorming. It'll also provide a foundation for learning new skills that will help bridge the gaps between school, university and employment."
"But the downside is we need to understand how much weightage or marks will be allocated by schools for these subjects. Children already have a lot of academic syllabus to cover. Hopefully, assessments for these areas will not burden them further," added Payal.