Sunday, June 16, 2024

Youth Policy


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The much vaunted youth policy for Meghalaya is hanging fire. So too the mining policy! However what is more serious is the absence of an education policy which had gone through a very tedious process of public consultation. Education has an integral link to youth. But our education policy has been without any focus. It does not cater to those who fall out of the paradigm of a neatly packed curriculum. One of the reasons for the high drop our rate is the poor communication skills of teachers and their inability to motivate the youth to cherish an ambition for a higher goal. The manner of imparting education is pedantic. Teachers are themselves not motivated. The inflexibility of the curriculum means that students have to fit into its neatly organised compartments instead of the other way round. In fine, our education policy is not tuned to the needs and aspirations of the youth of this era.

Things have changed drastically. There was a time when science, engineering and medicine seemed to be the only important subjects of study and were looked at with awe. Today the youth turn to the arts and humanities and if the curriculum has the space for skill-building, the youth will find enough scope for employment in these areas of study. The other day the Director of a leading institute of technology rued that those with engineering degrees tended to opt for management studies as well and end up managing companies instead of practicing engineering. He suggested that there be similar institutes of excellence like the IITs in the arts and humanities so that students will pursue what they want and not waste their degrees.

Meghalaya has a burgeoning youth population of roughly 7.5 lakh. A big chunk of this comprises high school drop-outs who have no vocational skills because our education system does not lay emphasis on skills. This huge unskilled human resource will become a burden for the state unless the government starts planning and fast. This is where the youth policy becomes important. The Department of Sports and Youth Affairs has, over the years, laid emphasis only on sports and neglected the other more important aspect – youth affairs. Sport is not the only important thing in the life of a youth. Bread and butter are. Youth affairs should essentially mean every aspect of youth development from mental and physical health to career counselling, skill training for employability and many such things related to youth development. A vibrant and skilled youth population is an asset. But the reverse is also true. Can the government show some seriousness in crafting out a meaningful youth policy after a state-wide consultation process?

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