New Delhi March 28, 2021: In a path-breaking conversation on mental health and socio-emotional learning at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “There has always been a dire need to inculcate resilience in our daily lives through education. During the pandemic period, staying at home was in itself a big trauma. Children faced an immense loss of learning, there was a looming uncertainty regarding the future and many people lost their jobs. These were tough times for all and resilience played a key role here.”
Deliberating upon the innovations spearheaded by Delhi Government for mental health and well-being, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “As the need to work on well-being emerged, we developed the Happiness Curriculum and encouraged students and teachers to practice mindfulness. The objective of our Happiness Curriculum has been to develop self-awareness and mindfulness, inculcate skills of critical thinking and inquiry, enable learners to communicate effectively and help children to apply life skills to deal with stressful and conflicting situations around them. Almost 3-4 lakh students who practiced mindfulness and different activities helped their homes to be strong and emotionally sound. Through the happiness curriculum, we have been able to encourage our ecosystems to think about long-term approaches to mental health.”
Manish Sisodia said, “I believe that wellbeing needs to be made as a mainstream subject in education. This is the time to change our strategy and push wellbeing into our domains of learning and mainstream subjects. One of the initiatives we have taken, to develop resilient children, is the Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum. Irrespective of what children pursue, we want our students to think like an entrepreneur — willing to dream big, try new and challenging goals, be able to recognize opportunities around, and then plan and execute to bring them to fruition. Failures are a part of life, but our students should be able to bounce back from them, analyze and learn from both successes and failures, and relentlessly persevere to achieve their goals.”
Speaking of the key elements which need to be changed or introduced in public education, especially in the post-COVID world, Manish Sisodia said, “The biggest takeaway from COVID, for our public education, has been that technology is here to stay. We need to quickly adapt our systems and encourage the use of technology. Adopting the right approaches to inculcate technology within our education would in fact make learning more inclusive. Our contribution to the rising need for technology is highlighted by the introduction of Delhi’s First Virtual School model. I can say that this would be our own kind of experiment in India, but the Virtual School will carry the hallmarks of any regular government school in the city, namely, students, teachers, regular teaching-learning activities, assessments, and most importantly, provision of holistic education to its students. We will ensure deliberate approaches to socialization by making the communities where students live, learning hubs. Most importantly though, our Virtual School will ensure that students can benefit from ‘anywhere living, anywhere learning, anytime testing’’.”
On the topic of building long-lasting resilient systems that sustain beyond governance and leadership, Sisodia said, “Leadership has to involve stakeholders and our leadership is not top-down, it is more collaborative. For example, when we were developing the Happiness Curriculum, we made sure that our teachers have a big role to play, that their recommendations are heard. Over time, you can see that we now have an entire cadre of teachers who believe in the vision and outcome of the Happiness Curriculum. Ultimately resilience is a part of our mindset and we’re building it into our mindset through our curriculums. Our Delhi Board of School Education will also eventually move towards a testing mindset rather than testing knowledge. It will play a key role in ensuring that schools develop a holistic learner profile of students, assessing and pushing for social and emotional learning in schools.”
The Harvard Social Enterprise Conference has brought together top leaders, practitioners and students to engage in a virtual dialogue, debate, and expression around Social Enterprise. The conference explores the space between people, decision-makers, and the diverse sources of social innovation, revisiting the questions of whom social enterprise is for, what role it can play, and why. The theme for this year’s conference is “Resilience and Reckoning” with “Innovations in Mental Health” as the agenda for this panel discussion.