Mon, 21 Oct 2019

Sonam Wangchuk calls for skill-based assessment system

Posted on Monday, October 22, 2018

Sonam Wangchuk spoorts promotion of regional language as a medium of education, in an exclusive interview with Shyna Kalra

To make the education system application based, we need to change the way we assess students, says Ramon Magsaysay awardee Sonam Wangchuk. We need to change the way entrance exams and job interviews are conducted. If we test how hands-on a student is in the entrance tests, the schools will also change their pattern accordingly,” says Wangchuk, who is an engineering graduate from National Institute of Technology (NIT).

Home-schooled till the age of nine, Wangchuk is an education reformist, who supports regional language as the medium of early education. “Our mother tongue should be our asset. Every region should use their own language to teach basic concepts to students, while English should be taught just as a language,” he says.

Speaking to Education Times, on the side lines of Mytrah Talks held at Amity University, Noida, Wangchuk pointed that grasping abilities increase when taught in regional language and learning in a foreign language hampers the learning abilities.

“We will never excel if we continue learning in a language acquired from another country. We will only do enough to serve those countries but never lead them,” adds Wangchuk, who is running a school in Ladakh for students who were declared ‘failed or misfit’ by the mainstream education system.

From next year onwards his university ‘Himalayan Institute of Alternatives’ will start enrolling students. The university, like the school, will run on an alternative education system, which Wangchuk refers to as ‘learning by living’.

“We have created an environment that students facilitate them learn from everything they do. The school is run like a small country wherein students form the government. From gardening to running parliament to hosting ambassadors - students do everything by themselves and by doing so they learn life skills including planning, leadership, communication etc.,” he adds.

The students also teach children in the local villages, who have lesser access to education resources. This is of importance in the region considering Ladakh had one of the highest school drop-out rates in India – which Wangchuk believes was because of inadaptability of the education system to contextualise according to the mountain region.

The university will also follow the similar education model where students will be taught sustainability and inclusivity. “The University is for people who are mountain enthusiasts and would do what they love rather than what society tells them to do,” says Wangchuk.

These graduates would “work on their own or work for those who need skills more than degrees,” he adds.

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