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Shamit FINAL 1 Sep - Article on Meghalaya Loan for GNN - August 2014_IJ_ST - Final

Shamit FINAL 1 Sep - Article on Meghalaya Loan for GNN - August 2014_IJ_ST - Final

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09/02/2014

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The e-Newsletter of the Gender Network
 
August 2014 | Vol. 8, No. 2
Making education more gender inclusive in Meghalaya, India
By Shamit Chakravarti 
1
 
The $100 million
 project is ADB’s first
intervention in India in the area of education and skill development. The project, approved in 2013, is helping to enhance
the employability of Meghalaya’s youth by
improving the quality, access, and delivery of its secondary education (grades 9 to 12), and technical and vocational education training (TVET) programs. Given the majority (86%) tribal population of Meghalaya, its unique ethnic and socio-economic characteristics, and the structural constraints faced by the state (see box), gender and social inclusion concerns have been weaved into all aspects of project design and implementation. The project design recognizes that even though indicators such as female
literacy, enrolment, and sex ratio are sound, and Meghalaya’s tribes are matrilineal, in reality,
females face several significant barriers. For example, there is very low representation of women in the village/tribal councils, and in other bodies such as school management committees (SMCs)
, contributing to women’s lack of voice and influence over decision making
in matters affecting them. Problems such as a lack of proper toilets in most schools, poor transport connectivity, a narrow economic base, outdated TVET programs not aligned to the market, a lack of awareness about possible career options, and the reluctance and inability of
tribals
 to migrate out of the state for jobs,
pose additional constraints for Meghalaya’s
women. To respond to these persistent gender inequities, a series of meaningful consultations were undertaken during project design with all stakeholders including representatives of different tribal groups, women's groups, SMCs, students, skills providers, and government officials to incorporate their feedback. An NGO comprising local Meghalaya youth (a mix of Garos, Khasis, and Jaintias groups) was engaged to undertake focus group discussions and surveys across all the districts of Meghalaya. The overall work was supervised by an experienced anthropologist. The feedback received informed the design of the project, in particular, the Gender Action Plan, the Indigenous Pe
ople’s Plan, the Communication Strategy,
and the Consultation & Participation Plan. Gender and social inclusion concerns will be addressed as follows:
1
 Social Sector Economist, ADB.
 
2
 
Secondary Education:
The infrastructure of more than 100 government aided schools, where the majority of the poor study, will be upgraded to national standards to improve the learning environment, improve access for the physically challenged, and ensure seismic and other safety standards. Additional rooms and facilities (including separate toilets for girls and boys, laboratories, clean drinking water, better furniture, and display boards) will be provided. Water harvesting structures will ensure that the toilets are clean. Rooms will be built to accommodate grades 11 and 12 where required to increase enrollment at the higher secondary level. Electronic tablets with built-in solar panels and pre-loaded good quality gender sensitive teaching and career counseling modules will be provided for the benefit of poor girls and boys who reside in remote parts of Meghalaya, where power supply is erratic.
Six basic training centers will be upgraded to national standards to increase Meghalaya’s
capacity to train primary and secondary school teachers. Around 3,500 secondary school teachers will be trained. The education component will benefit around 20,000 students in total (40% females).
 
Skill Development:
The project will help the Meghalaya State Skill Development Society (MSSDS) in catalyzing Public Private Partnerships in skills training to meet the needs of different segments including rural and urban youth, girls and boys, drop-outs (at various levels) and school graduates, and those seeking employment within and beyond Meghalaya. Particular attention will be given to trades such as retail, healthcare, hospitality management, and business process outsourcing that will be relevant for girls and their entry into the labor market. The project will also revitalize public training institutions such as the industrial training institutes by training their trainers, improving course material, and upgrading training equipment. Nearly 60,000 youth (40% women) will be provided market-relevant skills training over the project period. Skills-gap analyses and tracer studies that are sensitive to gender equality and social inclusion issues will be conducted to ensure that vocational training leads to desirable results, ideally, placement in the case of wage employment and enhanced remuneration in the case of self-employment.
 
Awareness building and mobilization:
 An NGO has been engaged to develop campaign material to enhance awareness about the opportunities provided by vocational training, focusing on the needs and aspirations of both females and males, while mobilizing them for skills training, and supporting livelihood development programs. It will also prepare brochures and pamphlets in the local Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia languages in addition to English and Hindi.
 
3
 
Project Management:
 Social development (gender) and social safeguards (indigenous people) consultants form part of the capacity building and the project management consulting firms that are helping the Government of Meghalaya and ADB in implementing this project. The overall project director (an officer of the Indian Administrative Service) is the focal point for all issues related to project-related grievances if any.
 
Capacity building
: A $2 million technical assistance financed from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction is building the capacity of the relevant government departments (e.g., Education, Labor, Planning, Finance, and Rural Development), and providing the required training to
implement the gender action plan, indigenous people’s plan, and
ensure sustainability of the reforms being pursued under this project. The project has been designed to ensure convergence with and reinforce the
Government of Meghalaya’s efforts to enha
nce livelihoods through its flagship Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Program. Given its strong pro-poor and gender focus, the project will help the Government of Meghalaya in creating a virtuous cycle of inclusive growth in the state.
Box: Meghalaya
Socio-Economic Context
Nestled within the Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia hill ranges in the north-eastern region of India, Meghalaya, meaning
the “
abode of clouds
, is a small state with a population of around 2.9 million. Meghalaya is a predominantly tribal state with the
various tribal groups listed in India’s Constitution Scheduled Tribe Order, 1950, accounting
for 86% of the population. Meghalaya has one of the oldest surviving matrilineal cultures in the world. The Garos and Khasis follow a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women. The youngest daughter inherits all the property and she is the caretaker of aged parents and any unmarried siblings. The male line, particularly the mother's brother, may indirectly control ancestral property, since he may be involved in important decisions relating to property, including its sale and disposal. Though Meghalaya has rich mineral reserves such as coal, limestone, and uranium, forest cover of more than 70%, and abundant rainfall, its economy has lagged behind owing to its remote location, hilly terrain, and poor infrastructure.
In 2012, 56.5% of Meghalaya’s workforce was in agriculture, 31.6% in services, and only 11.8% in
the secondary sector. About 65.4% of the workforce was self-employed, 16.6% were casual laborers, and only 17.9% was employed in the formal sector (regular salaried jobs). Even though overall literacy is around 74% with a narrow gender gap, (females: 72.9%, males: 75.9%),
Meghalaya’s youth –
 both females and males, find it difficult to compete for formal jobs, especially outside the state, becaus
e of the poor quality of the state’s secondary and higher secondary (SHS) education, and the
ineffective technical and vocational education training programs. The low employability of the youth compounds
the structural constraints posed by Meghalaya’s remo
te location, hilly terrain, and poor connectivity, and traps the state in a vicious cycle of poverty and backwardness.
 

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