As students near the end of their traditional 1-12 school life, the prospect of “what happens next” looms up before them.
For some, it is already time to enter the workforce but for a substantial number it is onwards to “Higher Education” – College, University, Vocational Training, Professional Courses, et al.
A large number dream big and vie amongst the millions for those precious few seats in the IITs, AIIMS and similar institutes that they believe will lead them to be “successful” engineers, doctors and what have you . . .
After the dust has settled, the rest settle for the second (or maybe the third) tier of these “centers of learning.” And India continues to churn out lakhs of “professional graduates” who are unemployable. The rat race has truly begun! But there is another side to the coin, a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel . . .
The National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020 shares a vision of creating balanced, reflective, and compassionate citizens who realise that simply getting a degree, landing a job, and settling down is not what life is about. For them learning is more about being able to think critically and logically, and process information in a mature way. Utilizing learning to develop their personal and professional skills is the aim for such people. This demand led to a rise in Liberal Arts education degrees pursued by many students.
Liberal Arts education is a multi-disciplinary approach to learning. The integration of curriculum on an interdisciplinary basis is the core of Liberal Education. It prepares students to learn from and have knowledge of multiple courses and disciplines, thus leading to creative and critical thinking at the same time. Liberal Arts education enables a student to think out of the box, develop interpersonal and communication skills, and analyze a situation from multiple perspectives. From being a problem solver to a socially responsible person, from being a critical thinker to a culturally aware person- Liberal Arts education prepares you for these and much more.
We need to gradually align ourselves towards offering our young people a liberal education that creates freethinkers, open communicators, knowledgeable and respectable individuals. We need to empower them with transferable skills and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement.
Today, a liberal arts education includes majors in humanities, arts, social sciences, and natural sciences eventually leading to a society that is inclusive and service oriented. The students can choose their majors and minors on undergraduate level in different disciplines, and make their application stand out during the recruitment process. In the job market, many top companies, such as Deloitte, TCS Consulting, Ernst and Young, prefer graduates from Liberal Arts colleges because of the knowledge of various disciplines they possess. There are various colleges in India and abroad dedicated to Liberal Arts learning. Thus, a degree in Liberal Arts creates leaders who are sensitive, sensible, and socially responsible with strong leadership skills.
“Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake” (Tagore).
Louis J. Dias
Greenwood High - Bannerghatta School, Bangalore