A new perspective on the learning process of a migrant

SkillingIndia on December 20, 2012 Comments
SkillingIndia.com in a dialogue with Prof (Dr) Mukti Mishra, the President, CUTM, India & Chairman of Gram Tarang… Excerpts of the interview:


“Migrants develop uncanny resilience and agility to fast-track the learning curve whether it is formal or informal,”
states Prof (Dr) Mishra.

SkillingIndia: What is the role of education in the migration process of a migrant?

Prof (Dr) Mukti Mishra: In today’s context, traditional education per se is under the challenge for its relevance and applicability. The entire world, and especially India, is subjected to millions of degrees without jobs. Most of the degrees are exam based, and learned through pedagogy, memorizing some basic concepts and theories and understanding probable applicability only to a minuscule extent. Real life competency and the level of education are almost parallel in the current context of the education system. By saying this, I am not suggesting that the current method and means of delivering education is completely redundant. I feel that the current education system resulting in awarding degrees prepares learners to be “think-ready”, not “job-ready”.

The process of education prepares a person to be resilient, adaptable, create and co-create value for self and the society at large. Inclusive education is all about creating or ameliorating livelihood. When I am talking about livelihood, it goes beyond the ambit of basic living. The purpose and goal of education is to create job and work commensurating with the level of learning and degree. Mostly the place of education and the location of work are different. Education and migration have been and will always be mutually inclusive and will always co-exist. For better quality of education and appropriate level of work – matching both expectation and degree – migration becomes a continuous process.

SkillingIndia: How does migration help migrants in obtaining new forms of knowledge and skills?

Prof (Dr) Mukti Mishra: I define skill as, ‘optimal output with minimal input and quantifiable improvement in the earning capacity’. Presence of skill results in absence of wastage. Skill has the following aspects:

  • Economic: (i) Co-creation of value – every skilled person is an educator and creator of next generation talent pool, (ii) Resource optimization – skilled resource only can ensure maximum out of minimum, and (iii) Sustainable livelihood – skill creates alternatives else it leads to the curse of “unemployment, technological unemployment and disguised unemployment”.
  • Technical: (i) Continuous capacity and confidence improvement – willy-nilly, every sector in an economy irrespective of country is subjected to continuous technological revolution hence a skilled resource can cope, adapt and improve self with the Blitzkrieg changes, (ii) Output optimization – technology is often defined as the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a pre-existing solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function at a given point of time. Hence technological revolution will achieve the desired result if matching the skilled resources that are available to use and operationalise it to optimize the output, (iii) Quenching the cycle of need-want-desire – the luxury of yester years are basic needs of today and this change of self-destruction and procreation will continue, although often it creates structural technology afflicted under-class. The luxury of today is the need of tomorrow which demands dexterity and confidence of human resource to handle such Blitz Krieg changes and skills could only provide that..
  • Social: (i) Self-reliant, independent and self-sufficient – by giving a person a fish he/she is made dependant, but providing a tackle and teaching a person to fish allows him/her to gain freedom through knowledge and confidence, (ii) Vertical and horizontal mobility both personally and professionally (as distinct from distress migration) – skill allows mobility between jobs, between places and one level of degree to the next.
  • Political: (i) Informed and better governance – skill is the source of livelihood hence a skilled person moves upward at least to the 4th level (esteem) in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, (ii) Economically healthy and socially responsible community – with livelihood in place, demand for knowledge and information becomes a habit resulting in desire for better governance through exercising rights and respecting responsibilities. With low productivity, limited or no alternatives for livelihood and restricted choice of mobility, unskilled populace demand for political freebies which results in the vicious cycle of poor governance, poverty, social challenges with multiplier and cascading effect.
  • Environmental: Ecological sustainability – skill builds capacity for use of minimum and makes conscious of finiteness of the world and environment.

In the space and process of learning, skill and knowledge are used interchangeably and simultaneously. Experience plays substantive role in formulating the knowledge base and acquiring new skills while improving the existing skills.

In the trajectory of spatial and job migration, transformation also happens in one’s:

  • foundation skills and knowledge,
  • transferable skills and knowledge,
  • cognitive skills and knowledge, and
  • non-cognitive skills and knowledge.

Migration resulting in the change of eco-system of an individual results in broad-basing one’s capacity to graduate from one level to the next in the knowledge and skill acquisition path.

SkillingIndia: How does formal and informal learning traverse through the life course of a migrant?

Prof (Dr) Mukti Mishra: Informal learning in the skill sector plays a very pivotal role not only in shaping the learning curve, but enhancing the income level. In India and rest of the world, recognizing informal learning is not well-designed and prevalent. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) has come to the focus point during last 4-5 years and most of the countries are working out a framework to allow cognizance and formalizing informal learning. The informal learning has to blend into formal learning for the simple reason of quantification and recognition through degrees.

It will not be appropriate to value judge the role of formal and informal learning for a migrant alone. The concept of learning to learn, life-long learning, learning through experience, hands-on knowledge and practice-based learning are sine-qua-non with the life course of any individual to graduate in the Maslow’s Theory: Hierarchy of Needs. However, it is worthwhile to say that migrants develop uncanny resilience and agility to fast-track the learning curve whether it is formal or informal.

SkillingIndia: How does migration and education shape the personality, status and life of a migrant?

Prof (Dr) Mukti Mishra: My experience as a skilled and educated migrant to Australia vindicates my conviction that migrants strive to equip themselves through education to maintain and upgrade their social and economic status. The void of not belonging to a place is camouflaged and the sense of indispensability is created by equipping oneself with higher level of education and learning. Migrants are always under stress owing to the spatial alienness and also under threat because of local cultural gulf. Hence, the desire for education is insatiable for migrants since a well educated person commands higher level of social cognizance and enjoys a better economic fit.

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