STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
New Delhi, 30 September
A new $100 million project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will improve secondary education and vocational training in Meghalaya. The project will help students to equip themselves better to find 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,” said Sungsup Ra, director of the Human and Social Development Division in ADB&’s South Asia Department. 
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, and non-government organisations to ensure the project reforms are sustained.
Enrolment in secondary schools in Meghalaya is only 29.9%, compared with the national average of 45.5%. Moreover, there is 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% 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. Around 60% of the state&’s secondary schools have no science laboratories and 72% have no separate toilets for girls. Nearly 5,700 secondary school teachers do not have adequate training.
ADB&’s 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% 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 project will also 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.