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21st – Century Skills Competency-Based Education

  • 𝟮𝟭𝘀𝘁 – Century Skills Competency-Based Education

The subject of Competencies in Education has been around ever since formal schooling began. It has taken various shapes and forms over the years – some are evolved forms, and some still trying to make that list that says that we do hands-on experiential learning and teaching. Let us through these thoughts walk the road down to Competency-Based Education.

Before we move on to what we really know about Competency-Based Education, let us first define the word competency itself. The Merriam-Webster dictionary meaning of the word competency is possession of sufficient knowledge or skill.

Competency according to Darwinboxis a set of demonstrable characteristics and skills that enable, and improve the efficiency of, the performance of a job. Competencies are not skills, although they are similar. Skills are learned, while competencies are inherent qualities an individual possesses.

Taking this a step further, let’s first discover the meaning of Competency-Based Education also known as CBE.

Competency-Based Education is a learning style and approach to education that has its main focus on the learner/student. A learning methodology that allows the student to demonstrate the desired learning outcomes is laid down as the central focus of their learning process. So, at its very core, CBE is a pedagogy meant to showcase how the learner learns, works, and collaborates in real-time scenarios. To be able to do this, learning must be a continued evidence-based assessment process, that lays emphasis on flexibility in time, pace, manner, and continued support/feedback from the educator to ensure all students reach the desired objective laid down at the inception.

This would bring us to the next set of questions we must ask ourselves as educators in this 21st century. Some of them are:

·      What do we understand by the term Competency-Based Education (CBE)?

·      What do we hope to gain by adopting this kind of teaching pedagogy in schools?

·      What are we looking at when educating 21st-centuryst century learners?

·      Can CBE be implemented in its true form?

·      What are the challenges and obstacles CBE faces in today’s scenario?

·      Can schools today overcome these challenges and obstacles? How?

·      Can we bring the 21st-centuryst century learner into the fray to make them ready to face the world with confidence, aplomb, and style, words that are synonymous with our 21st-centuryst century learners?

A lot of unanswered questions; and upon discussion – varied responses about the viability of teaching the CBE way in schools. Let us break down into manageable bits everything one needs to know about competency-based education, including the approach and its benefits. Let us tackle the questions posed to get a clearer picture of the topic at hand.

We are today on the cusp of this pedagogical learning/ teaching in schools, and the CBSE hopes to put into practice this way of teaching and learning to ensure educators and learners benefit from education to its fullest.

CBSE says Competency Based Education is an approach to teaching and learning.

Based on this approach, learning and teaching objectives must be clearly defined and put into place at the very outset to direct both the educator and the learner to define a clear path to the end result; succinctly and with clarity, laying emphasis on real-world scenarios.

Once we have the objectives in place, the next step is how we design and transact these objectives. The main focus must always be the learners-placing them in the center and at the center of all classroom or out-of-classroom situations. Having said that, while designing these objectives it would be safe to say that the educator must keep in mind the different types of learners and learning styles that every classroom has.

Assessments then become the focus of the student’s learning patterns. Here it would be logical to mention once again the focus must be the learner and the assessments- learner friendly; in which, attention is paid to the student’s ability to demonstrate what they have learned rather than just the content fed to them in every subject taught in schools.

This then is the crux of what Competency Based Learning is all about and this is how to empower the 21st-centuryst century learner, bringing them into the fray of challenging present-day workplaces.

The conversation today must be whether we can implement CBE pedagogy in all schools, across the board. Huge challenges and obstacles that stand in the way must be overcome and only then will the movement ahead happen. And that is the topic for a whole new discussion on the opening of this pandora’s box.


Devyani Kapoor

Devyani Kapoor

Founder & Director
Edudevs School of Inspired Teaching & Learning | Edudevs Knowledge Foundation

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