According to WHO, life skills may be defined as “abilities for adaptive and positive behavior, that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Every school should enable children and adolescents at all levels to learn critical health and life skills.”
Human beings are a complex mixture of knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior. People constantly interact with other people, with their inner selves and with the environment as a whole. Thus, as children grow up into adolescence and adulthood they need to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable them to handle themselves and their environment successfully.
Traditional education attempted to address this holistic view of human personality through the informal education system. The formal education system, on the other hand, has tended to prioritise knowledge at the expense of other aspects of our personalities, believing that an increase in knowledge will automatically lead to positive changes in attitudes and behaviors.
At the same time, it was generally assumed that life skills and attitudes would continue to be imparted through the family and community. However what has happened is that such traditional methods have largely broken down thereby leaving young people more vulnerable. In addition, the challenges and threats facing young people have increased for various historical reasons. Thus, it has become increasingly clear that such prioritisation of knowledge at the expense of other aspects of the human personality is a very inadequate way of preparing young people for the complex nature and challenges of our world today. Maybe this has been brought into sharpest focus by the HIV/AIDS pandemic but it refers to the way we live our lives in general. The life skill program both in school and community is an ongoing program.