Life Skills Development/Unit One/Introduction
How this Course is structured
This Course is arranged according to the six major themes. The headings indicate information and assistance for the facilitators who are delivering the Life Skills Training. It is important that the order be followed in order to ensure that the programme is understood in its entirety and for the greatest increase in overall growth and development.
The course content
The course content is broken down into five units based on the themes. Each unit is divided into several sections. Each section comprises:
- Core content of the section with a variety of learning activities;
- Assignments and/or assessments, as applicable.
- A summary of the section.
Introduction to the Programme
The United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting in April 1998 generated a broad definition of Life Skills education:
“Life Skills education is designed to facilitate the practice and reinforcement of psychosocial skills in a culturally and developmentally appropriate way; it contributes to the promotion of personal and social development, in the prevention of health and social problems, and the protection of human rights.”
The Life Skills Development programme is to focus on three (3) broad areas, which require the internalisation of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values into the self and daily practice. Therefore didactic lecturing will not achieve these practical and reflective ends (Chriest and Maher 2001):
- Psychosocial Skills – intra and inter-personal;
- Societal Skills;
- Occupational and Livelihood Skills.
Life Skills act as a link between motivating factors – the knowledge of positive behaviours - and action - behaviour change. Life Skills therefore create the capacity and will to choose and implement the desired choices. In both the short term and the long term, life skills translate knowledge of what to do, into how to do it and provide the enabling factors for doing it (Duggan, 2003). Life Skills encourage the development of a core set of skills across cultures and settings. Life Skills also promotes the development of the ideal Caribbean Person, who displays respect for human life, an appreciation of family and community values, moral issues and has an informed respect for our cultural heritage.
The didactic approach is inadequate to facilitate the sustainability of positive behaviours, the internalisation and development of life skills among the trainees. The teacher roles for such engaged learning is facilitator; guide, co-learner and co-investigator while the trainee roles encompass explorer, cognitive apprentice and producers of knowledge (Jones, 1994).
Effective performance in the workplace depends not only upon the ability to perform specific technical tasks but also on the reliance of appropriate work-habits and attitudes. The key stakeholders in the workplace have repeatedly called for a training programme that focuses on areas that are essential for success. Life Skills are as imperative as job-specific or technical knowledge for maintaining a job or a business: skills such as interacting appropriately with peers and supervisors, dealing with conflict, responding to demands in a timely fashion, performing duties at the required standard and handling funds related to work and personal finances which are all valuable to the livelihood of all citizens.
Research suggests that a well-articulated and efficiently implemented Life Skills Curriculum successfully addresses a number of societal issues and pressures and acts as a direct investment in the nation’s human capital. The implementation of a Life Skills programme has increasing significance for Trinidad and Tobago; a society, which is on the threshold of social and economic transformation and committed to improving the quality of life of its people. This training creates an opportunity for the inculcation of fundamental life skills for operating successfully in the world of work, as well as fulfilling the demands of a changing society and is therefore vital to achieving the goals of Vision 2020. The Life Skills training would therefore serve as a catalyst for change that makes reparation to society and the victims of crime a commitment.
The Life Skills Development programme is directed toward increasing the individual’s ability to engage in balanced and fulfilling activities outside of work that contribute to developing a better-rounded person.
Life Skills programmes have been successfully implemented in many countries, such as, Zimbabwe, India, Thailand, Mexico, United Kingdom, Canada, USA, South Africa, Costa Rica and Columbia, to address particular social challenges.
Trinidad and Tobago faces several critical social challenges, including:
- High rates of sexual and physical abuse;
- Early onset of sexual activity among young people;
- High incidence of HIV/AIDS;
- Rise in youth unemployment;
- Functional Illiteracy
- Increasing levels of crime and various types of violence;
- Widespread alcohol and substance abuse.
These social issues, if not resolved, incur a high cost to society in terms of both direct expenditure and shortfall in productivity. To reduce the associated costs, primary prevention strategies, such as the Life Skills Curriculum must complement existing intervention measures.
The implementation of the Life Skills Development programme is therefore essential for:
- The promotion of healthy personal development through the building of resilience and psychological capital;
- The primary prevention of critical social problems (e.g. spread of HIV, STDs, crime and violence);
- The preparation of the citizenry for changing economic and social circumstances.
The adoption of the Life Skills programme will contribute to an improved quality of life for citizens and their full participation in nation building. Furthermore, it will encourage self-directed and life-long learning and increase productivity.