Guwahati, Oct. 1: The Asian Development Bank’s first loan for the country focusing on boosting education and skills has gone to Meghalaya which will help its students to be better equipped to find high-quality jobs after graduation.
The $100-million project — Supporting Human Capital Development in Meghalaya — will upgrade to national standards the infrastructure of 117 government-aided private secondary schools and provide laboratories, libraries, clean drinking water, computers, and separate toilets for girls and boys as well as access for the physically challenged.
This is Meghalaya’s second assistance from ADB, the earlier one being on fiscal reforms.
Around 60,000 youths, 40 per cent of them girls, will receive skills training under the project. The project will enhance employability of Meghalaya’s youth (aged between 16 and 35 years) by improving the quality of its secondary and higher secondary education as well as technical and vocational skills development programmes.
Sources said this would be done by a four-pronged strategy — improved teaching and learning in government-aided secondary and higher secondary schools, increased capacity and responsiveness of technical and vocational education and training, increased awareness and participation and lastly improved project management.
Students in the hilly state will be able to work with computers with built-in solar panels that are loaded with secondary school courses.
“Many of today’s students in Meghalaya are the first in their families to go to school; so we need to make sure that they get the right curriculum, teaching, and equipment,” said Sungsup Ra, director of the Human and Social Development Division in ADB’s South Asia department in a communiqué issued today by the bank.
The education statistics are glaring enough and there is a wide gap with the national average. Enrolment in secondary schools in Meghalaya is only 29.9 per cent compared with the national average of 45.5 per cent. Moreover, there is a wide disparity in the quality of facilities and teaching between schools.
Of the 961 secondary schools in Meghalaya, 591 are government-aided private schools where 71 per cent of the state’s students are enrolled.
Around 60 per cent of the state’s secondary schools have no science laboratories and 72 per cent have no separate toilets for girls.
Nearly 5,700 secondary school teachers do not have the required training.
The bank said while 90 per cent of employment opportunities require vocational skills, the state's education system continues to focus on rote learning.
“These programmes have become out of date since they are not linked with the private sector. Their placement record is poor which adds to the general stigma associated with vocational and technical training,” it said.
Official sources said the state has been emphasising on the need to strengthen physical infrastructure to widen the economic base, and has called for increased investment in human capital development for improving the coverage and quality of education, healthcare and promoting skill development and vocational training, especially for women.