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Ashoka University Founder, Vineet Gupta opines importance of Holistic development of students

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A quality institution incorporates all necessary measures to enable students to realize their full potential. This entails creating an environment where students may excel academically as well as mentally, physically and emotionally. In order to sustain each student’s health and welfare, universities and colleges need to create an ecosystem that helps students gain confidence.

Vineet Gupta, Ashoka University Founder, highlights, “We should aim to nurture students who are not only academically rigorous but also emotionally strong and socially conscious. This is more important in today’s day and age and especially post-pandemic. Today, most information is available on Google search; hence knowledge can only be a limited differentiator for success. Students who are more likely to succeed will be the ones who also build strong interpersonal relationships, are resilient, can connect the dots and care deeply for the community around them.”

Participation in sports and extracurricular activities provides students the chance to work with other students hence developing interpersonal skills. They also develop an ability to cope with failure or “losing.” Experiential and project-based learning helps students apply their academic knowledge in a practical setting and serve as a means of reinforcing classroom learning. “We tend to learn more by doing than by reading,” says Vineet Gupta, Ashoka University Founder. According to a recent study, taking involvement in co-curricular activities can boost school engagement and commitment for students and reduces the risk of dropping out.

There is some research now emerging which suggests that “grit” is a more accurate predictor of success than IQ and “smarts” alone. Professor Angela Duckworth, in her book “Grit,” says, “Grit is living your life like a marathon.” Persisting with a chosen path despite obstacles. She says that one way to develop Grit is by “having a growth mindset.” The belief is that failure and the ability to learn is not a permanent condition, and it can change with effort. Helping students delve into the curriculum that develops rigor could hence be one way of developing grit.

Success is also a direct function of confidence that students gain. Schools and colleges have to make students grow and do things well. This boosts confidence and, in turn, gives you the ability to be able to take on any challenge. Often, pursuing something you love to do or are good at doing helps you gain confidence. “The core of a child’s learning experience is goal-oriented education, which is a valuable way to equip them with knowledge. However, a holistic education would be one that encourages extracurricular activities, project work and engagement with the community.  

It can make learning exciting and provide every student with a chance to gain self-confidence. It can even enable them to be well-equipped for the challenges ahead. We at Ashoka University provide a variety of 2-credit co-curricular courses in the visual arts, languages and performing arts each semester. These co-curricular courses combine hands-on training in an artistic discipline such as theatre, dance, painting, or music or in a language such as Latin, Urdu, or French with critical examination of the social, aesthetic, economic, political and historical facets of the same. We also provide extensive mentorship and project-based learning to help students gain confidence,” opines Vineet Gupta, Ashoka University’s Founder.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently released the preliminary report on the National Credits Framework (NCrF). The NCrF will encompass all co-curricular activities across disciplines and will apply to all students. Along with class assessments, extra-curricular like festival celebrations and school cleanliness will help them earn credits that will be kept in the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC). There won’t be a clear division between academic and vocational courses, and this framework intends to provide a single system for credit acquisition and transfer of general and professional education from secondary to higher education levels.

The union education ministry is at the final stages of completing the National Credit Framework in an effort to provide a smooth transition from secondary to higher education while increasing employability. The National Education Policy 2020 places a strong focus on practical learning and developing skill-set; as a result, the NCrF gives weight to a learner’s relevant experience and competence levels. It entails debate, creative writing, theatre, athletics, social work, performing arts, field trips, on-the-job training, industrial affiliations, etc.

“The NCrF approach takes into account the need to focus on learning outcomes rather than learning hours. It permits credits for olympiads, hackathons, fine arts, and other activities. While this is a great initiative, we should remember that if involvement in co-curricular activities helps in holistic education, then ensuring that children from all socioeconomic levels have access to these opportunities becomes a crucial issue that needs to be taken care of.

I believe that we are moving to a stage when co-curricular, extra-curricular, and project-based learning and engagement with the community will become a core part of education and curriculum than being on the periphery. I hope we preserve a culture where students do these to develop themselves than just for grades. Then we would truly have holistic education,” asserts Vineet Gupta, Ashoka Founder.

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