GUWAHATI, Oct 1 – Multilateral agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) today announced a new USD 100 million fund for Meghalaya which will seek to improve secondary education and vocational training in the State to make students 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. This will help ensure they stay in the classrooms and ultimately get the skills they need to get good jobs later on,” Sungsup Ra, Director of the Human and Social Development Division in ADB’s South Asia Department, said in a statement.
The project, ‘Supporting Human Capital Development in Meghalaya’ is ADB’s first loan in India, focusing on boosting education and skills.
An additional USD 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, and non-government organisations to ensure the project reforms are sustained.
The ADB project is intended to 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 18,000-20,000 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 ADB said.
The project will also train around 3,500 under-qualified teachers and work with NGOs 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 Department of Labour to improve industrial training institutes. In total, around 60,000 youths, 40 per cent of them girls, will receive skills training under the project,” it said.
According to the ADB, 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 wide disparity in the quality of facilities and teaching among the 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. Most are from poor tribal families. As these schools are not eligible for infrastructure support from the Government, their facilities are below national standards,” it said.
It added that the State’s technical and vocational institutions struggle to teach the skills the private sector needs, “making it hard for youths to compete for formal jobs, particularly outside the State.”