ADB likely to sanction 100mn US $ to Meghalaya

NEW DELHI, Jun 4  – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is likely to sanction a USD 100 million loan to Meghalaya for supporting development of human capital of the State.

Technical Assistance Special Fund of USD 2,25,000 has been sanctioned on Wednesday. The project envisages facilitating environment for improving Meghalaya’s human capital through skill development mission, improving learning environment in secondary schools, besides strengthening capacity in relevant Departments.

The proposed project would help in enhancing the employability of Meghalaya’s youth by improving the quality and delivery of its skill development and secondary education programmes. ADB said that given Meghalaya Government’s long-term vision and commitment, the Bank proposes to support its efforts towards human capital development.

The proposed loan is aligned with Strategy 2020 and the Country Partnership Strategy (2009-2012), which focuses on supporting India’s efforts towards inclusive growth. The Bank said that the problem of low employability is not restricted only to Meghalaya. It is a national problem constraining India’s efforts towards inclusive growth, and impeding its transition to a knowledge-based globalised economy.

It is estimated that 57 per cent of India’syouth suffer from some form of un-employment. Given their challenging mandate of skilling 500 million people by 2022 and universalising secondary education by 2017 respectively, there is urgent need to implement these Missions effectively in States such as Meghalaya, ADBsources said.

Meghalaya has rich mineral reserves, forest cover of more than 70 per cent, and enjoys abundant rainfall. It has so far been unable to tap its rich resource base effectively owing to its hilly terrain, poor connectivity, and weak infrastructure. Unfortunately, the youth, who constitute 35 per cent of the population, are unable to compete for these jobs because of the poor state of Meghalaya’s secondary education and skill development programmes.

It is estimated that 60 per cent of the secondary schools do not have Science laboratories, 72 per cent do not have separate toilets for girls, while 27 per cent do not have access to reliable drinking water. Further, only 36 per cent of Meghalaya’s teachers at the secondary level are trained as against the national average of 90 per cent.

The drop-out rate at the secondary level is high because of the poor learning environment in schools, and the overall disconnect with the State’s skill development and vocational training programmes, ADB sources said. At least 70 per cent of the labour force remains employed in low-skilled agricultural jobs.

The industrial base is narrow with only limited processing and value addition taking place within the State. Given their fluency in English, the workers of Meghalaya can potentially look for jobs in hospitality, retail services, healthcare, IT and IT-enabled services, and as airport and airline staff outside the State as well.

While 90 per cent of the employment opportunities require vocational skills, Meghalaya’s education system continues to focus on rote learning. As most skill development programmes are funded by Central Ministries, the Government of Meghalaya has limited flexibility in tailoring them to meet the State’s emerging priorities.

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.

The State Government launched the Meghalaya Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme in 2012 to develop its human resources by enhancing their employability and income-earning potential.

As part of this programme, the Meghalaya Employment Promotion Council (EPC) has been constituted with the mandate to support placement-linked skill development within and outside the State, by involving the private sector. Nine missions have been launched so far.