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Life skills education for youth: Critical perspectives

Wed, March 25, 10:00am to 1:15pm, Hyatt Regency Miami, Floor: 4th, Tequesta

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session (English)


This double panel session examines life skills education as it has gained considerable attention by education policymakers, researchers and educators as being the sin qua non for later achievements in life. Life skills education is nearly ubiquitous in global and national education policies, including as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), because they are regarded as essential for a diverse set of purposes: reducing poverty, achieving gender equality, promoting economic growth, addressing climate change, fostering peace and global citizenship, and creating sustainable and healthy communities. Yet, to achieve these broad goals, questions persist as to which life skills are important, who needs to learn them, how they can be taught, and how they are best measured.

This set of presentations critically reviews a diverse body of scholarship and practice that informs the conceptualization, curriculum, teaching and measurement of life skills in education settings around the world. Presentations on the panel examine life skills as they are implemented in schools and non-formal education, providing both qualitative and quantitative evidence of when, with whom, and how life skills impact, or not, young women and men’s lives in various contexts. Collectively, the presentations call for a need for critical conceptualizations of life skills if they are to achieve the diverse purposes that policymakers and educators assume. The presentations offer examples and considerations for reframing life skills conceptually and pedagogically to address structures and relations of power in order to help all young people achieve these desired future outcomes.

The session papers will address the following questions:

· What are life skills? How is the teaching of life skills enacted by various actors in the fields of international development and education?
· Which life skills are most important, who needs to learn them, and how should they be measured?
· How can the bodies of practice and research evidence among thought leaders and donors converge to inform life skills programming?
· What are the synergies and differences between life skills education and initiatives to promote social and emotional learning, vocational/employment education, health and sexuality education and other related skills? How might learning be shared across these different types of initiatives and fields?
· How do life skills connect with the sustainable development goals and notions of quality education advanced in international policy agendas?
· How might life skills be better incorporated into basic and secondary education, as part of the formal curriculum, given that many life skills interventions are taught through non-formal programs (and by NGOs)?
· How do or can life skills education, both conceptually and pedagogically, address structures and relations of power to help youth achieve desired future outcomes, and goals set out in the SDGs?

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