Are Teachers Really Giving Importance to Work Experience in Schools? – Mhabeni Tungoe, Assistant Professor Education

Students of Tetso College participating in social work 

Students study Math’s, History, English and other subjects. Many times, we fail to understand the connection they have with the realities of life. A closer look at our education policy and system does indicate that there exist provisions for SUPW and work experience as a subject. Education is not only about books but it is also about the arts, music and sports activities that help develop a person’s character. When our school system already has provisions for SUPW and Work experience as a graded subject, it begs the question: 

Are Teachers Really Giving Importance
to Work Experience in Schools?

Education is one of the most important instruments to bring transformation in society. Keeping in mind the importance of education for the upliftment of economy and vocational education in society, many educationists have made and have been making worthwhile attempts to link education and work experience. According to educationists, the education system must not be too theoretical that students seldom have the occasion to learn things by practical application. The students will be able to learn through their own experience if greater importance is given to work in education.                                                                                                
Work experience (WE) means to obtain experience through work. It is a technique through which work and education are co-related. The term ‘work’ here means that activity which develops a tendency for productivity. Socially useful productive work refers to the purposive, meaningful and manual work, which is useful to the community. S.U.P.W is one avenue through which students acquire work experience. S.U.P.W is a subject that can branch out into a variety of work related activities. However, it is essential that S.U.P.W should either result in material production or involve students in some form of service.
Objectives of S.U.P.W:                                       
1)      To acquaint students with the world of work and services of the community, and develop in them a sense of respect for manual work
2)      To develop a desire to be useful members of the society and contribute their best to the common good
3)      To inculcate positive attitude of team work and desirable society values like self-reliance, dignity of labor, tolerance, co-operation, sympathy, and helpfulness
4)      To help in understanding the principles involved in the various forms of work
5)      To provide opportunities for creative self-expression and for the development of problem solving abilities
Work experience is directly linked to handicrafts, trade, industrial and technology.
Many developed countries have successfully linked education with work experience in their education system. In India, Mahatma Gandhi, one of the greatest educational philosophers suggested that handicraft be taught not merely for production work but for developing the intellect of the pupils. This idea was forwarded by the Kothari commission (1964-66), which suggested introduction of work experience in the Indian education system.  Subsequently, after the recommendations of the Iswarbhai Patel committee (1977), which first coined the term socially useful productive work (SUPW), in the history of school education in India the subject was first introduced to the school curriculum in 1978, by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. At present, India is moving forward due to the serious efforts of NCERT, Union Ministry of Education, social welfare, and State Department of Education.
In the Nagaland school system, SUPW is an integral part of the curriculum.  Every year the students submit their SUPW and accordingly they are graded and given marks. In some schools in Nagaland, life skills activity and vocational education are provided with a well organized system through which the students experience work and produce their creative work. At the same time, some students in educational institutions produce their creative work, even without training at school, which is very appreciable.
However, WE/SUPW in educational institutions in Nagaland are generally not effectively implemented, according to how the objective should be. This is because in many government and private schools, a well-planned and organized system is lacking for WE/SUPW. Now the question before us is, are students bringing useful productive work through work experience? This question must be looked into by the educational department, institutions, teachers, and parents. It is pretty obvious that when the time comes for the submission of SUPW, majority of the students usually bring things bought from the market and get graded accordingly. This practice does not promote development of work skills and dignity of labor in the students, rather it focuses on good or more expensive products accompanied with a good and undeserving grade. This goes completely against the purpose, ethics and objective of WE/SUPW. If we truly want WE/SUPW to work out well and effectively in our school system, for the student’s community and society as a whole, certain changes are needed. These are changes which cannot be made by one factor alone, but requires the joint effort of the education department, schools, teachers, students, parents and the local community.
Certain things that can be implemented are:
(1) Educational department can make it mandatory for every government and private school in the state for the provision of separate SUPW classrooms.
 (2) Appointing trained teachers for teaching different handicrafts, activity and skills; so that the students can be trained, taught to utilize and develop their creative abilities and potentialities and produce products that are useful to the needs of the society. Their efforts can also help the economy of schools, at the same time, the students can prepare for the right vocation.
 (3) Teaching materials and textbooks should be provided for effective learning.
(4) Sufficient funds must be provided.
(5) Provision of raw materials by parents so that students can bring them to school and make the products under the supervision of the teachers.
(6) Proper evaluation system of the students work. The productivity of the students can be accepted as the basis of evaluation, supplemented by oral, written, and daily work in assessing the student’s merits.                                            
In my opinion, if we give importance to the above points, this can result in a more effective and positive work experience for our students and ultimately society as a whole. We, Nagas, are gifted with artistic skills and talents like no other, comparable even in the national and international scene, as talents like Atsu Sekhose and others have shown. We must tap and hone these skills. WE/SUPW might just be the solution to helping our children begin early on to stay one step ahead of the rest.


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