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5 Biggest Challenges and Solutions of Unstructured and Non-Standardized Co-Curricular Education Though the benefits of a co-curricular education are beyond dispute on the global stage, the concept remains a relatively new one to Indian audiences

By Jigish Sonagara

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It's the dream of every parent to raise a child who is confident, successful, resilient, and happy in their chosen pursuit. After all, what parent would ever admit to wanting anything less for their offspring? Unfortunately, the way in which most parents go about this utopian vision is flawed. While exam results may once have been the sole determining factor in the future success and prosperity of an individual, those days are long gone. In today's highly competitive, cutthroat environment, it takes far more than a purely academic curriculum to stand out and be noticed.

It's with these factors in mind that the concept of a co-curricular education first came about. A co-curricular education focuses on the all-round development of a child, and gives them to opportunity to develop a plethora of other skills, whether as an artist, a musician, or a sportsperson. Having said that, here are the 5 biggest challenges currently faced in the field of co-curricular education in India, and the means by which we might overcome them:

Lack of Recognition

Though the benefits of a co-curricular education are beyond dispute on the global stage, the concept remains a relatively new one to Indian audiences. This unfamiliarity with a new learning methodology leads parents to dismiss it as a viable option, instead opting to stick to the tried-and-true methodology of existing educational practices.

This misconception can be countered through the involvement of established personalities across a range of professions. Whether through the involvement of retired cricketers or professional dancers, eminent artists or renowned musicians, the expertise of these individuals serves to reassure participants that their children are in the best hands possible.

Distorted Understanding

Perhaps the greatest barrier to the widespread understanding and acceptance of a co-curricular education arises from its frequent conflation with extracurricular activities. The former is a holistic educational model centred on the overall development of a child's personality and skills, with the ultimate intention of ensuring their future-readiness. The latter consists of the activities performed outside of an academic curriculum, which are entirely voluntary – and entirely avoidable.

Unfortunately, this results in a situation wherein parents are perfectly willing to cheer for the achievements of India's athletes, musicians, and artists, even though their enthusiasm doesn't extend to supporting their own children's pursuits in these fields. It is therefore imperative that an accurate understanding of the concept be imparted to the general public. With the help of nationwide workshops, seminars, and symposiums specifically designed to answer the questions posed by parents and educators, a clearer understanding of the benefits of this school of thought should gradually emerge.

Unstructured Market

The introduction of any new concept to a market inevitably leads to a flurry of imitators seeking to take advantage of it. And at present, this is a sad reality of the co-curricular education market in India. As the general public grow increasingly wary of an educational system that prioritises scores above all else, the interest in alternative methods of education rises. It is in this void that a plethora of self-styled "coaches' and "experts' have sprung up, each peddling their own brand of self-devised education models. This in turns gives legitimate, globally-recognised schools of thought a bad name, causing people to look upon them with suspicion. In order to curb this dangerous trend it is imperative that the government take steps to structure and organise the ecosystem, culling those out to make a quick buck while preserving the reputation of genuine educational organisations.

The E-learning Bias

Even though great strides have been made in the field of Indian education over the last decade, there's still plenty of work to be done. Perhaps the area in need of the greatest improvement is the public's bias towards e-learning. When questioned, the vast majority of parents won't hesitate to criticise the concept. While they may cite a range of objections – from its reliance on electronic devices to the lack of a physical presence overseeing the programme – their objection ultimately boils down to one thing: that's not how I did it.

If this bias is to be overcome, a comprehensive, step-by-step programme needs to be offered. This serves to calm any fears about the competency of the education, while also allowing the progress of students to be accurately charted and measured. When compounded with the digitisation of the expertise of experts in their respective fields, the accumulated knowledge of a small group of individuals suddenly becomes available to a tremendous audience.

Teaching Proper Technique

While a number of private and governmental organisations have sprung up to nurture the nation's talent in various fields – from sports and music to the arts and dance – too often these institutes are underfunded and poorly run. In this environment, genuine talent is frequently overlooked. Moreover, the techniques and teaching methods used are routinely antiquated and poorly designed. When combined, these factors are more likely to irreparably damage the potential of students, rather than elevating them. In contrast, digitised co-curricular learning platforms are staffed by certified professionals and experts. With a reach in the tens of thousands, they have the ability to cultivate talent in the farthest corners of India, spotting that special something that separates the good from the great.

Jigish Sonagara

Founder and CEO, Aidia Technovations

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