Shillong, Oct. 1: Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a loan of $100 million to improve secondary education and vocational training in Meghalaya so that students are better equipped to find high-quality jobs after graduation.
“Many of today’s students in Meghalaya are the first in their families to go to school; so we need to make sure they have the right curriculum, teaching, and equipment,” Sungsup Ra, director of the human and social development division in ADB’s South Asia department, said in a statement issued today.
“This will help ensure they stay in the classrooms and ultimately get the skills they need to get good jobs later on,” Ra added.
The project — Supporting Human Capital Development in Meghalaya, is ADB’s first loan in India focusing on boosting education and skills.
An additional $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will be used to strengthen the capacity of related state government departments, including education and labour as well as non-government organisations to ensure the project reforms are sustained.
According to the ADB statement, enrolment in secondary schools in Meghalaya is only 29.9 per cent compared with the national average of 45.5 per cent.
It also said that there exists a wide disparity in the quality of facilities and teaching between schools.
Of 961 secondary schools in Meghalaya, 591 are government-aided private schools where 71 per cent of the state’s students are enrolled, the ADB pointed out in the statement.
“Most students are from poor tribal families. As these schools are not eligible for infrastructure support from the government, their facilities are below national standards. Around 60 per cent of the state’s secondary schools have no science laboratories and 72 per cent have no separate toilets for girls,” the multi-lateral funding agency added in its statement.
Further, it pointed out that nearly 5,700 secondary schoolteachers do not have the required training.
At the same time, it said, the state’s technical and vocational institutions struggle to teach the skills the private sector needs, thereby making it difficult for youths to compete for formal jobs, particularly outside the state.
The ADB project 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 expected to improve the learning environment for 18,000 to 20,000 students, around 40 per cent of whom will be girls. Students in remote locations will be able to work with tablet computers with built-in solar panels that are loaded with secondary school courses,” the statement said.
Moreover, the project will train around 3,500 under-qualified teachers and work with non-government organisations to raise awareness in poor communities about the importance of education and skills.
It will also help the Meghalaya State Skill Development Society, the state-led body tasked to work with private institutions, to improve vocational skills training, and with the labour department to improve industrial training institutes.
In total, around 60,000 youths, 40 per cent of them girls, will receive skills training under the project, the statement pointed out.