Globalisation, technological and industrial revolution in the recent era of Anthropocene led to urbanisation, deforestation, manufacturing of hazardous chemical materials, and mass consumption of resources. Climate change and environmental degradation have been the consequences of the exploitation of resources. Increasing incidences of ecological, social and cultural crises, called for an urgent action to mitigate the damage and restore the quality of the environment. The Government of India has initiated several programmes to address these challenges. Sustainable development goal 7 aims to ensure environmental sustainability. It emphasises on the need for collective action to combat climate change, environmental degradation and reduce the carbon footprints through sustainable living. Sustainable development includes aligning the human needs and practices with the ecological preservation for future generations, through intra and inter-generational equity. Education for sustainable development (ESD) aims to achieve better living standards and the learning experiences of students. Equipping the, with the skills to understand, be aware and translate knowledge into useful determined action, strengthening psycho-social abilities to understand the world, develop autonomy and judgment. Enabling individuals to make decisions which have long-term effects on the economy, ecology, environment and equity of communities. The educational paradigms and efforts should be focused on enhancing the abilities of students to create solutions, find alternatives to lead a sustainable future and address some of the contemporary, global problems.
Education can facilitate cultural and societal transformation toward sustainable development. It helps in developing generic competencies, skills, attitudes, interdisciplinary understanding of knowledge, and application for a sustainable future. Socio-ecological understands congruent with the human needs and practices is necessary to ensure the well-being of individuals, communities and future generations. Education facilitates knowledge and awareness and critical reflection on consumption, human-nature interdependency and sustainable living. This study tried to understand the importance of life skills in education, its potential to enhance the capabilities of young adults in taking proactive decisions, reducing ecologically damaging behaviours and improving their quality of life through sustainable living. Life skills have been identified as psycho-social abilities, encompassing a broad range of personal, interpersonal, psychological, social and cognitive skills, which enable students to know, understand and translate the knowledge; take right choices and decisions, interact appropriately, manage their emotional well-being, lead a harmonious and sustainable life.
The study addressed the following research questions:
– What is the role of life skills education in generating climate change awareness and sustainable living among young graduates?
– What is the level of awareness and attitudes of youth towards sustainable living and state initiatives towards environment protection and skill development?
The study was conducted in the state of Telangana, which faces a significant challenge of lack of adequate natural resources, providing water to the drought-prone areas from the Krishna and Godavari rivers. Interstate disputes and lack of consensus over water sharing, lack of irrigation facilities has caused misery to the farmers. Some of the other issues include socio-economic challenges, land security to tribals, protecting the forest lands, irrigation facilities, health care, education services and power generation and capacity building of marginalised communities. The state government initiative of ‘Bangaru Telangana’ envisages societal development and community development strategies with awareness generation programs on sustainable development and livelihood generating opportunities through education and skill development.
The study employed a mixed-method explanatory sequential design. In the design, the qualitative data was used to measure the awareness, perceptions, and behaviours of individuals towards sustainable living and its relation to life skills. Qualitative methods were used to explain the findings of the quantitative data. Case studies and policies were analysed to obtain insights for sustainable development initiates to empower the youth and facilitate participatory initiatives of community development. The study revealed that life skills enable individuals to cope and deal with the challenges, strengthening their resources and increase their ability to make informed decisions towards sustainable living.
Further, increasing the person’s sense of self translating the acquired knowledge/abilities into action towards sustainability. Education for sustainable development through life skills can help in reducing the severity of projected consequences and environmental degradation through mitigation strategies, empowering youth and communities towards collective action. Some of the prominent themes that emerged after qualitative analysis of interviews were autonomy, existential threat, motivation, ownership, collective action and sustainable well-being.
Ms. Mounika Prashanthi Vavilala is a doctoral student at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, India. She pursued her Master’s in Health Psychology and currently working in the area of Student Outcomes, School Effectiveness and Wellbeing.
Dr. Tanu Shukla is an Assistant Professor at BITS Pilani, India. She pursued her Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Planning and Administration from NIEPA, New Delhi. She has 7 years of teaching experience and 12 years of research experience in Educational Planning and Administration. She works in the area of Education, Applied Psychology, Research Methods and Organisational Behaviour.
Ms. Divya Dosaya is a doctoral student at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, India. She pursued her Master’s in forensic Psychology and is working on Teacher Professional Development, Student Achievement and Secondary Education.
Prof. Virendra Singh Nirban is an Associate Professor at BITS Pilani. He pursued his Ph.D. in Technology and Education from BITS Pilani, India. He has 10 years of research experience in the area of Technology Interventions in Education and e-Governance, Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis and Social Media Studies.