Life skills in education

LIFE skills are needed for everyday success as a means to cope with change, different situations and different times.

By JONAH NYONI

As such, it is important to equip learners with life skills education so that they are able to meet the challenges they face in everyday life.

To manage change of modern life, the learners need new life skills such as the ability to deal with stress and frustration.

I co-authored this article with Zodwa Nyoni, an expert in early childhood development.

We will examine the inclusion of life skills education in the primary school curriculum.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) (1996), life skills education is a value-added programme, which aims at providing learners with strategies to make healthy choices that contribute to a meaningful life.

In other words, life skills education is an important extra programme, which focuses on providing learners with a strategy to create strong choices for the challenges they face in everyday life.

Life skills include problem-solving skills, social skills, and clear thinking.

These help learners to be responsible, accountable, and mentally independent.

Life skills help classify the learners’ personality type(s).


Personality types are psychological classifications that lead to specific traits, behaviours and individual qualities.

According to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) there are 16 personality types.

In an article on www.opp.com, these personality types are described as follows:

“Where you focus your attention – extraversion (E) or introversion (I).

“The way you take in information – sensing (S) or intuition (N).

“How you make decisions – thinking (T) or feeling (F).

“How you deal with the world – judging (J) or perceiving (P).”

The more we bring life skills education, there more the child identifies themselves and the careers choices they should make in relation to their persona.

Also, emotional intelligence is built on the basis of self- awareness.

Self-awareness helps them to better deal with the outside world.

By knowing the personality types of a child, the teacher coaches the child to truly become or excel in their true purpose or passion.

So, the curriculum aligns to the purpose of helping learners achieve the identified and specific educational outcomes.

Sewell (2015) defines curriculum as a written plan for learning experiences in which children are involved.

This means that a curriculum is a set of planned matter, which guides learners to achieve certain skills, values and gain knowledge.

Life skills are essential in everyday life

Life skills help the learners to benefit in different areas such as living health and high-quality life, knowing their rights and informed decision making.According to UNESCO (2008), life skills education enables children to avoid unhealthy risks by developing negotiating skills and resistance to peer pressure, communication and interpersonal skills, decision making and critical thinking, problem-solving skills and coping and self-management skills.

This enables children to know when there is the likelihood of danger and how to appropriate action in good time.

Decision making is properly done when learners are equipped with life skills education.

For example, when the teacher is teaching about drugs, children are given facts and information about the dangers of misusing the drugs or the reproductive system.

The facts that the teachers give learners about different topics help them in decision making in their everyday life.

In addition, life skills support psychological health in terms of personal well-being and development of healthy relationships.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (2007) on the convention of the right of a child, have included the implementation of life skills in the curriculum because that empowers children to encounter challenging situations.

This entails that life skills assist children to know their rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living, healthcare, education, participate in the communities they reside, protection from abuse and discrimination.

For example, the right to educational services.

It is necessary to implement life skills education in schools so that the learners will have adequate knowledge about their rights and be able to stand for themselves in life.

The Global Fund Education (2013) states that the key skill is good decision making.

When learners are taught about personal hygiene, they are able to make good decisions on what is good for their health.

Life skills education proves to be an effective approach in primary prevention education, as it uses problem-solving approach (WHO, 2010).
Life skills enables the learners to make informed decisions.

According to UNICEF (2012), life skills enable children to explore different courses of action as they reflect on the odds for and odds against their day to day living in order to make reasoned decisions to solve problems or issues as they arise.

As children explore and decide on different courses of action, they need skills to weigh future consequences emanating from actions and those their colleagues based on their own values and the values of those they stay with.

As the child is armed with clear and correct information, the child will be able to evaluate available chances as he or she prepares to face challenges ahead of him or her which may emanate into social awareness of the concerns of one’s family and society.

In addition, life skills help them to have various skills like leadership, responsibility, communication, intellectuality, self-esteem and interpersonal skills.

However, if learners are not properly given life skills education, they will not be able to participate effectively in the society and making proper decisions when facing challenges in life.

According to Rodgers (1998) some teachers teach subjects that they subjectively think are appropriate to the learners.

This, in turn, leads to abandonment of life skills because the teachers think that the subject is less important in the corporate world compared to others.

Problems in the implementation of life skills curriculum arise from untrained teachers and relevant technologies.

In addition, some of the teachers have no confidence to carry out experimental activities.

In conclusion, life skills education plays a vital role in learners lives.

It helps them make right decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships,
empathise with others, and cope with managing their lives in a healthy and productive manner.

In addition, as the life skills education are important in learners’ lives, there are challenges faced in the implementation of life skill education such as lack of adequate resources, untrained teachers, and social-cultural beliefs.

However, if life skills are not taught in primary school curriculum, learners will not benefit in education, because they will not be aware of the value that is brought by education in their lives.

lJonah Nyoni is an author, success coach and certified leadership/business trainer. He is the author of Inspiration for Success and Success Within Reach. Contact details: Tel: 0772 581 918. Email: jonah@classicmail.co.za. Twitter@jonahnyoni.

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