Policy Makeover - Embed SEL in Education Policies

by Shaveta Nayyar Dham Director at

 India with all its ancient knowledge of ‘Vedas’ and ‘Shastras’ has always focused on the awareness of the “self’ or ‘inside’. Are we ready as human beings first, and then as parents and as teachers to understand this basic lesson of life? How then we should educate our children?

We are moving towards artificial intelligence at a faster rate. We now also have an urge to travel to ‘Back to Basics’ philosophy of education that sits more on the ‘value’ system, where ‘artificial’ or ‘unnatural’ means are not preferred. Today, we have alternate school, home school, progressive school, regular school, gurukuls and the list goes on. With this plethora of choices, parents and children become anxious as to where to go. In this roller coaster of implementation of learning methodologies, we have created choices and confusions as to what will make a child’s life profound.


Looking at the current scenario, it has rather become imperative to make children prepare in a way that they should be able to handle situations that life throws at them when they grow. Irrespective of any educational system, some things need to be followed everywhere in any system.  In this ocean of knowledge, one should know how to swim in-spite of the tsunami of situations. It is here that we all need to pause and check- Are we doing it in the right way for our children?


Daniel Goleman, in his famous book, Emotional Intelligence, has said, “If there is a remedy, I feel it must lie in how we prepare our young for life”.  He emphasizes often on the need to imbibe social and emotional learning in a more positive way in our lives. Emotional Intelligence”, is the way forward that can make children focus on how to manage and regulate their emotions.


In 2000 edition of the Handbook of Intelligence, EI is defined by researchers John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey, David R. Caruso “as the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in the self and others.” (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000, p. 396; see also Mayer & Salovey, 1997).


Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) & its Relevance

Recently, Daniel Goleman also said that today children spend hours and hours looking at the screen rather than people around them thus hampering and weakening their social and emotional side. A survey conducted by Delhi Police in collaboration with AIIMS’ Behavioral addiction Clinic (BAC) has revealed that 37% of the students depend on the internet to lift their mood. These kids are Problematic Internet Users (PIU), a medical term used for internet addiction causing psychological problems in children. 


The evidence supporting the relationship between Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) & academia is growing.  SEL is being practiced in many countries in the world. SEL innovations at schools have shown a decline in aggressive behaviors of children while improving their performance in different subjects too.


Schools are trying to introduce many Social and Emotional learning programs that can help children grow. In my discussion with Sheela Rao, Head- Counsellor, St. Pauls School, New Delhi, said, “Schools need to take it in a bigger and better way and introduce a centralized SEL curriculum that can measure the learning outcome. However, our present education system only allows schools to operate and experiment in certain limitations.”


In our growing economy, significant changes are happening in the education industry. Diversity, social-economic factors, services, resources etc – all play a big role when it comes to redefining the education of our children. The strongest schools will be those who will integrate SEL into their curricula for all-round development of the children.


The Policymakers must introduce SEL into the curricula (from primary level till class 12th) that can be implemented nationwide. Each stage curriculum with learning outcomes needs to be thought well and created.  A complete strategy at the grass-root level must be designed keeping in mind the socio-economic factors.


Therefore, the questions are-

·       How we can integrate SEL into our present educational system?

·       How we can integrate SEL with the course or subject learning?

·       How we can make SEL measurable and create a centralized curriculum for all the schools?

·       How we can embed SEL into a child’s life without any pressure?


Some Points that are prerequisite and would help to develop SEL keeping in mind are –

Implementation and Scaling Up

Huge efforts are required on successful implementation of the SEL curricula.


Delivery systems, methodologies, training, learning – all need to be worked upon the stage by stage. New technology innovations and centralized offline learning will play a major role to push SEL curricula.


A pilot execution of the project needs to be followed by scaling up the delivery embedding into the current system along with measuring the child’s performance in each class. An educational reform where public and private partnerships need to be evaluated that helps in faster scaling up of the programs. 


Beyond the Management hurdles

Structural issues, management hurdles will always remain considering the diversity in our economy along with many other factors. The schools need to go beyond their structural and framed network. Perhaps each school will have its own way but the centralized structure of implementation should be the same.


Teachers Training

Teachers need to be prepared well. The management and knowledge givers must collaborate positively. A nationwide training needs to be executed – offline, online – whatever it takes to bring about this positive change.


SEL Resources and Management

In India, growing awareness in the education sector has led to a higher literacy rate.  The workforce working behind this- Govt, NGOs, Schools etc have managed to achieve interest in education. So far so good. But there is much more. The present resources and management are struggling to make the system work in totality for our children.  It will be challenging to create new ‘mindfulness’ from the existing resources.


Many programs on behavioral skills, cognitive, experiential and much more is already existing. Somewhere, they are connected in terms of learning outcomes. However, new research and practice are needed to design performance-based programs. In the UK and US, many organizations are working together to develop SEL programs. (CASEL)*, SIXseconds, (SECD)* are some of the international organizations that are developing new programs.


India needs more organizations to come forth and create a pool of resources that are centralized. To optimize the use of these resources, Policymakers need to look at spreading more awareness along with Literacy and other educational campaigns. Delhi Government’s “Happiness Curriculum” is the first step taken to educate our children in a healthier environment.


We are moving in that direction but “there are miles to go before I sleep”.



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About Shaveta Nayyar Dham Junior   Director at

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Joined APSense since, November 26th, 2019, From New Delhi, India.

Created on Nov 27th 2019 05:33. Viewed 240 times.


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