Meghalaya: COVID takes a toll on developmental projects in education sector

The education sector in Meghalaya is one of the many crucial areas that has been badly hit with education-related projects and infrastructure being halted or delayed. 

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie


With the COVID pandemic and lockdown measures not easing anytime soon, developmental activities are expected to suffer as Meghalaya witnesses a delay in the implementation and completion of several infrastructural works. 

The education sector in Meghalaya is one of the many crucial areas that has been badly hit with education-related projects and infrastructure being halted or delayed. 

Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui informed that there is a backlog of initiatives and schemes that the department was hoping to complete this year. 

"Actually, this year, we want to start with the process of sanctioning of teaching and non-teaching staff for the Patharkhmah College and complete the Shillong Engineering College, but these have been pushed back to maybe next year because of the pandemic," he said. 

The foundation stone for the new model degree college at Patharkhmah in Ri Bhoi was digitally laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February of 2019, the construction of which is completed. While the foundation for the state's first engineering college in Mawlai, Shillong was laid by former chief minister Mukul Sangma way back in 2017. The construction of the college is 80 per cent completed.

When asked if the department has received any complaints relating to the continuous shut down of educational institutions and problems faced by the teachers and students alike, Rymbui said the current situation demands the understanding and cooperation of all. 

"We have not taken any decision on reopening of educational institutions. We have to review the situation in the state first," he asserted. 

Admitting that connectivity is a problem when it comes to online learning, the education minister said that the department is working on strategies to address this issue while adding that complaints and grievances from parents, teachers and students are being addressed at the district level. 

Challenges in Education Sector

Talking about the challenges in the education department, Rymbui said, "Meghalaya has different challenges in comparison to other parts of the country because here, the education system is different from other states."

He highlighted that unlike other states, in Meghalaya, there are many government-aided and minority institutions. "The aided institutions are not totally in the hands of the government. But I am very glad that most of these aided institutions are performing very well," he added. 

"The major hurdle in the education sector in Meghalaya is the disparity in the salary of teachers, which is different for government and government-aided teachers. There is also the problem with the number of managing committees in different schools," the minister pointed out. 

Different interventions in education sector

Talking about the different interventions in the education sector, Rymbui said that the department is trying to address the issues related to vacancies in the government schools, Adhoc appointments and infrastructure. 

"From the administrative side, I have seen many posts of principals, vice-principals, DSEO (District School Education Officer), SDSEO (Sub Divisional Education Officer) are lying vacant. We are also trying to address the problem of teachers training," he added.

In terms of infrastructure, Rymbui informed that this year, the Chief Minister had sanctioned money for the reconstruction of 203 schools - 191 government Lower Primary (LP) schools and some Higher Secondary schools and Secondary schools all over the state.

"These schools will be improved with complete facilities like water supply, electricity and connectivity. So, the process is on," he stated. 

According to him, from 2017-18, the number of schools has increased from 584 to 610 and this year, the number of schools stands at 649. "We are increasing every year but still a long way to go. We need the cooperation of everyone so that the education system in our state could be improved," he added. 

Action on schools with zero per cent pass percentage

When asked about actions against schools with zero per cent pass percentage in the last board exams, Rymbui informed that the committee that was tasked to investigate the matter had submitted a report to the government and necessary instruction was supposed to be issued. 

"But, just after the report was submitted, Meghalaya was hit by COVID-19. It became difficult for us to work. This is still pending with us," he added.

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