Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Empathy through education


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2-SEL


While the National Education Policy (2020) notes numeracy and literacy as its central aims, Social and Emotional Learning should be an equally important goal as it supports skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

What is social and emotional learning (SEL)?

  • SEL is the process of learning to recognise and manage emotions and navigate social situations effectively.
  • SEL is foundational for human development, building healthy relationships, having self and social awareness, solving problems, making responsible decisions, and academic learning.
  • Neurobiologically, various brain regions such as the prefrontal and frontal cortices, amygdala, and superior temporal sulcus are involved in the cognitive mechanisms of SEL.
  • Brain systems that are responsible for basic human behaviour, such as getting hungry, may be reused for complex mechanisms involved in SEL.
  • Despite its importance to life, SEL is often added as a chapter in a larger curriculum rather than being integrated in it.
  • The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for SEL as school closures reduced opportunities for students to deepen social relationships and learn collaboratively in shared physical spaces.
  • Even with parental involvement, the challenge of an inadequate support system for SEL remains.

Way forward

  • Perhaps we can contextually adapt best practices from existing models.
  • A starting point would be to consider insights from the Indian SEL framework:
  • One, the application of SEL practices should be based on students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Two, SEL strategies of caretakers and educators must align with one another.
  • Three, long-term success requires SEL to be based on scientific evidence.


As a sustainable development goal outlines, policymakers now have to ensure that future changes prioritise “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Importantly, the onus lies on all of us to make individual contributions that will drive systemic change.

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