‘Seeing is believing’ they say, but learning by experiencing is what leaves a lifelong impact in a person’s life. The concept of learning outside the classroom activities is often authentic, hands-on, interactive and build-on classroom learning. Today’s society has a higher demand for self-awareness and more specialised skills. One of the easiest ways to help advance students is by incorporating learning experiences outside the classroom. Taking classroom learning outside can help enrich a student’s educational experience by showing them real-life applications of theories that they are learning at their educational institutions.
Learning outside the classroom is the use of places other than the educational institution for teaching and learning. It is about getting children and young people out and about, providing them with challenging, exciting and different experiences to help them learn. This is perhaps why higher educational institutions are insisting on doing internships outside one’s territory, State and country to gain maximum exposure to what they have learned in their academic curriculum. How advisable is it to encourage our young ones to stay far away from home? For those who have lived many years away from home will agree that their approach to life has been different. It has taught them to be independent, to manage their finances, to survive in odd situations and most importantly the learning that has taken place through all the experiences that they have encountered is priceless.
Shillong is privileged to have had this trend that has been in practice for many decades now and it is even more common with today’s teenagers. There are organisations which facilitate students who would like to go and do their internship abroad during their studies. There are also organizations which provide services to students who desire to pursue higher education in international universities up to PhD level. Such efforts, I must say are commendable! They are gateways to students who want to explore the world and have first-hand learning of cultures, people’s lifestyles and ethnicity. Being far away from home, even for a shorter duration will help broaden the mindset of the individual as he/she gets to witness the different scenarios of the world other than what one is surrounded with, on an everyday basis. Their perspective to challenges, learning to adapt to new situations and accepting change shifts to a different level altogether. They develop patience, tolerance, traits of working together as a team and most importantly accepting food habits of people, their race, and traditional beliefs in varied cultural settings. There is no denial of the fact that living in residential educational institutions, hostels and similar arrangements has moulded and disciplined an individual’s life for the better. The sense of being able to manage oneself develops and in most cases such attributes last a lifetime.
The upbringing of a person from a very tender age holds an important say in any decision making that one has to make. While on one hand, we have kids who are very independent and are ready to take up any challenges, travel and study anywhere and take up job opportunities as and when they get such offers, on the other hand, we have kids who have never been brought up to a level whereby they can make a simple decision in relation to anything. Blame it on the parents, family members, the community or our tribal approach. For every small decision that they are called upon to take, they turn to their parents for the final call. This can be related to choosing a course to study, choosing a specialisation(s), the place for an internship to applying for a job (kind of job and location). While there may be no financial implications for such decisions, the close-knit bonding and family ties to a certain extent can handicap the decision of the youth in wanting to come out and be on their own.
The magic word here is ‘togetherness’, even if it means sacrificing pursuing higher studies, career or a lifetime opportunity. Ironically, the highly educated lot, who complains of unemployment/underemployment, are the ones who want a job only in Shillong city and not beyond. For instance, an eligible candidate from Jaintia hills would want a job only in that district and so on. The thought of leaving their homes has never crossed their minds as it is something that they have never been discussed or encouraged to do and or is aware that at least their parents would not permit them to leave. This is perhaps why government reports indicate that there is no scarcity of schools, other facilities or scholarships for the implementation of tribal education schemes. Most tribal youths find these incentives unattractive, however. Consequently, the government’s dream to assimilate the tribes remains unfulfilled and raises basic questions about the implementation of such policies and strategies.
Compared with the literacy rates of 73 per cent for the general population, literacy among tribal peoples in India is at most 59 per cent. The Union and the state governments have spent considerable sums of money for tribal youths’ education, but the results are meagre. The Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes asserts that unless exploitation among the tribals is combated and eliminated through education, no improvement in tribal welfare will occur. Within tribal areas, education can be the basis for integrated development. In the past, many tribal groups were forced to assimilate into the dominant culture of the country. Some tribal groups resisted change and assimilation to maintain their cultural identities and languages. According to many Indians, their continued isolation poses problems to national integration. Under the banner of national unity, the government is now bringing these minority groups into the national mainstream. The main question is whether tribal societies can enter the national mainstream while preserving their distinct social, cultural and political beliefs. Government planners see education as indispensable for helping tribal peoples cope with national integration. Education will also determine their prosperity, success and security in life. The tribes which remain either deprived of or negligent toward education will suffer the consequence.
Alongside internship, the introduction of apprenticeship which is a kind of job training that involves following and studying a master of the trade on the job instead of classrooms has increased the aspect of better learning and exposure for our tribal youth. Carpenters, masons, doctors, and many other professionals often learn their trade through apprenticeship. This is the universal definition to apprentice, and it is no different from the original and founding definition of Apprenticeship in India from The Apprentice Act, 1961. “Apprenticeship Training” means a course of training in any industry or establishment undergone in pursuance of a contract of apprenticeship and under prescribed terms and conditions which may be different for different categories of apprentices”.
Fortunately, the government has notified changes in Apprenticeship Rules (1992) that envisages increasing the skilled workforce in the country and raise monetary compensation of apprentices. The Apprenticeship (Amendment) Rules, 2019, seeks to raise the hiring limit of apprentices to 15 per cent of the total strength of an establishment/organisation, and their stipend to up to Rs. 9,000 per month. The same efforts have been made by the Central government to ensure that students from North East India are able to avail this scheme for their diverse academic and professional growth.
It is very humble to be able to stick to one’s roots and origin; however that does not imply that one cannot leave their homes to go out to other states/countries to study and work. Attaining sufficient experiences and returning back to your roots will only help enrich your region by applying the best practices and learning that one has attained. While this write-up may not apply to individuals who are attached to certain family responsibilities/situations, in general, it is important to create confidence and widen the outlook of our young ones by discussing opportunities beyond one’s State and district in order to prepare them to be ready to explore, rather than, be too rigid to move away from their comfort zone and geographical boundaries! (The writer can be reached at [email protected])