The education ministry has instructed all schools to allot Life Skills Education (LSE) classes for at least two periods a month from this academic session.

However, not all schools have implemented the rule.

According to the education ministry’s deputy chief officer with the School Health and Nutrition Division, Karma Dechen, the implementation depends on the school principals’ understanding of the advantage and effectiveness of LSE. “While some schools adopted LSE classes four times a month, others did not organise a single lesson in the entire school year.”

Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enables individuals to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday living.

Educating in life skills should inculcate ten core principals; self-awareness, critical thinking, decision making, effective communication, coping with stress, empathy, creative thinking, problem solving, interpersonal relationship, and coping with emotions.

A skill-based education is said to help children and adolescents learn to deal with the difficulties of growing up and risk situation.

With young people facing challenges such as HIV/AIDS, alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, unplanned pregnancies, sexual and other forms of exploitation intensifying, the education system comes with its own share of pressure.

From peer pressure, high self-expectation, high parental expectation, self-image and self-esteem, academic pressure, the stressors on youth are on the rise.

Given the importance of LSE, the education ministry in 2008 adopted life skills education with the help of both teachers and students to adapt and build positive behaviours.

To take the programme forward, the education ministry together with the health ministry also developed a guidebook for teachers on LSE. The guidebook has 49 modules meant to be divided and studied as students go through classes PP-12.

As per the guidebook, the first 15 models including introduction to life skills, making home a healthy environment, personal hygiene, learning to manage time, stress and its impact, talking to parents every day, personal care during menstruation, sexual harassment, and how to say no among others, were to be covered for classes PP-6.

The remaining 34 models which include putting a stop to substance abuse, understanding eating pattern, male body, early sex and its consequences, reproductive system, alcohol, dealing with peer pressure, sex and sexuality and getting tested for HIV were to be taught from classes 7-12.

Accordingly, from 2009 to 2013, 7,184 individuals comprising dzongkhag education officers (DEOs) principals and teachers were trained with life skills education knowledge.

To review the implementation of LSE in school and get feedback on its implementation, a study was conducted in 2014. Teachers from 15 schools from around the country presented the findings of the study today. Lack of funding was attributed as a major cause of the long gap between the study and the presentation period.

The findings concluded that after LSE programmes, schools noticed a decline in physical fights, destructive behaviours, increased capability of students to make decisions, increased self-esteem and positive behavioral change.

Accordingly, it was recommended that every school allocate two periods in a month for LSE classes. However, some teachers shared that it depends on whether the principal finds it worth implementing.

Esori Waglay