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Life skills

Definition of Terms

The terms "knowledge" and "information" are used interchangeably in many contexts, but in discussions of life skills education, "information" refers to what is communicated about a particular fact or subject, while “knowledge" refers to a state or condition of understanding that permits factual information to be related to other information and knowledge, synthesized into broader concepts and usefully applied.

The term "attitudes" is used in the context of life skills education to encompass the broad domain of social norms, ethics, morals, values, rights, culture, tradition, spirituality and religion, and feelings about self and others.

"Life skills"
"Life skills" are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are loosely grouped into three  broad categories of skills: cognitive skills for analyzing and using information, personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others.

“Life skills education”
Life skills education is a structured programme of needs- and outcomes-based participatory learning that aims to increase positive and adaptive behaviour by assisting individuals to develop and practise psycho-social skills that minimize risk factors and maximize protective factors. Life skills education programmes are theory- and evidenced-based, learner-focused, delivered by competent facilitators, and appropriately evaluated to ensure continuous improvement of documented results.

"Life skills-based education"
A term which came into use to describe life skills education addressing specific content or undertaken to achieve specific goals, e.g., life skills-based peace education or life skills-based HIV & AIDS education. The term makes it clear that a life skills approach will be used to teach the subject matter, meaning that participatory teaching/learning methods will be used to help learners develop not only knowledge, but also the psycho-social life skills they may need to use knowledge to inform and carry out behaviour.

“Skills-based health education” 
This term is used to describe life skills education that aims to prepare individuals to make decisions and take positive actions to change behaviors and environments to promote health and safety and to prevent disease.




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