ADB to Strengthen Human Capital in India's Meghalaya State

Students receiving training in hotel management at the skills training center run by IL&FS, Education, at Barapani near Shillong, Meghalaya

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – A new $100 million project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will improve secondary education and vocational training in India’s Meghalaya state so 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,” said Sungsup Ra, Director of the Human and Social Development Division in ADB’s South Asia Department. “This will help ensure they stay in the classrooms and ultimately get the skills they need to get good jobs later on.”

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 labor, and non-government organizations to ensure the project reforms are sustained.

Enrollment 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 the required training.

At the same time, 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.

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 organizations 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 Labor to improve industrial training institutes. In total, around 60,000 youth, 40% of them girls, will receive skills training under the project.