Punjab: In pandemic times, PSEB introduces new subject to help students deal with stress, learn life skills

All government, affiliated, aided and associated schools of the PSEB will have to teach this ‘mandatory subject’ from Class 1 to 12 and teachers will then be asked to do internal assessments.

Nearly four months after Covid-19 outbreak disrupted normal life across the country, the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has introduced a new subject ‘Welcome Life’ (Swagat Zindagi) from Class 1 to 12 with an objective to infuse positivity among students and to help them deal with mental stress in these trying times.

All government, affiliated, aided and associated schools of the PSEB will have to teach this ‘mandatory subject’ from Class 1 to 12 and teachers will then be asked to do internal assessments.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Amarjit Dalam, Deputy Secretary (Academics), PSEB, said that the chapters for the subject ‘Welcome Life’, have been developed on the basis of “nine core moral values and teachings” and according to the level of each class, they have been further expanded in detail. For instance, basic handwashing and hygiene is what has been stressed on for primary classes and stress management has been focused upon for Class 10.

“Although earlier too we had plans to introduce a subject to teach children about every aspect of life, from moral values to value of human relationships, dealing with adolescent age issues to gender sensitisation, respecting elders to decision making, stress management to decision-making, we realised it was urgent to introduce it from this session itself in the times of Covid-10 outbreak. In these times, children are going through a lot. They are dealing with stress and uncertainty like we all are. So, we rushed it from this session only,” said Dalam.

About facilitating the teaching of the new subject, he added: “Syllabus has been uploaded online and soon chapters will also be available online. Printing of books for this subject is also in the pipeline, but till then teachers can download syllabus and chapters from the board website and start teaching it in online classes.”

Elaborating on the content of the syllabus for the subject, Dalam said, “For instance, basic handwashing and hygiene is what we need to teach students right from Class 1…So, we have stressed on this because they need to make handwashing a part of their routine. Dealing with stress, having a positive approach towards life, making right decisions, judicious use of gadgets and smartphones, gender sensitisation etc have been stressed on for higher classes…”

A look at the syllabus of the subject ‘Welcome Life’ revealed the wide range of topics that the board has tried to touch upon.

For Class 12, the topics that have been included are: social and moral values, respecting parents and elders, adolescent age issues and dealing with them in right way, peer groups affect and helping each other, gender sensitisation and empathy towards other genders, decision-making power and taking right decisions with independent approach, identifying your own skills and putting them to optimum use among others.

Similarly, for Class 10, the topics include self-discipline, valuing human relationships in life, honing your skills and serious approach towards your career, judicious use of smartphones and other gadgets, society’s outlook towards a boy and a girl and how to stay away from wrong notions, empathy towards other gender, expressing your feelings, needs and desires, how to solve sensitive problems, tolerance and respect for others, understanding and respecting the other gender, positive and optimistic thinking, balanced emotional development including right way to express feelings such as writing a daily diary, developing mental ability to take right decisions at the right time, self-confidence and applying common sense. Apart from this, anger management, getting rid of fearful apprehensions, stress management are among other topics that have been covered for Class 10.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Prof Yograj, chairman, PSEB, said, “We may add more topics as per need, but teachers need to start teaching released syllabus immediately. In times of the pandemic, it has become all the more important to discuss these topics with students.”

Teachers, meanwhile, said that it was a welcome step by the PSEB to introduce a subject that is away from academic stress, adding that it will give an opportunity to students to express themselves during the discussions, which is crucial to let them pour their hearts out with schools still being closed.

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