The Draft Meghalaya Youth Policy 2021 has called for the need to invest in very young children is crucial to maximise their future well-being.
According to the draft policy, children’s early experiences such as the bonds they form with their parents and their first learning experiences deeply affect their future physical, cognitive, emotional and social development.
“Optimising the early years of children’s lives is the best investment that can be made to ensure their future success,” the draft policy said.
Realising this, the policy takes a broader view in defining its target group as individuals belonging to the age group of 5 to 29 years.
The population in this age group is about 19.9 lakhs, constituting 54.8 percent of the State’s population.
As per the draft youth policy while the primary focus remains on youth (belonging to ages of 15-29 years), critical issues and programs relating to the age group of 5-14 years will also be emphasised and made part of the overall youth development framework.
As the State’s Vision for the decade 2020-30 is to become one of the top ten States in the country in terms of per capita income and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
The draft policy states that the youth of the State will, naturally, play a pre-eminent role in achieving this vision.
This policy lays out the systematic framework for youth engagement that endeavours to ensure all young men and women get support and meaningful opportunities to reach their full potential as they actively participate in society.
Thrust areas for interventions are – early interventions, education, health and well being, skill development, employment and entrepreneurship, excellence through sports, creativity through arts and crafts, leadership, inclusion and engagement and environmental consciousness and social responsibility.
According to the draft youth policy, the current generation of youth is the best-educated so far, however, the quality of education and its capacity to prepare young people for the employment market remain major concerns.
With a total literacy rate of 75.5 percent as per the 2011 consensus, the State is at par with the national average.
The dropout rates in Meghalaya at both the primary and upper primary levels stands at around 17.5 percent and are higher than the national averages of 6.4 percent and 5.7 percent respectively.
The Government has completed the exercise of GIS mapping of all the 14,669 schools in the State.
The draft policy states that the renovation of existing infrastructure and addition of classrooms has been completed for around 260 Primary Schools.
Along with these, the upgradation of 79 Upper Primary Schools to Secondary Schools has also been completed under the Samagra Siksha Abhiyan.
The Government has also ensured the completion of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded ‘Supporting Human Capital Development in Meghalaya’ in 117 schools.