SHILLONG, Sept 22 - The Meghalaya Government has approved of an Education policy emphasising on �free and compulsory education to children till 14 years of age� with an �interactive and participative teaching and learning process to help create a proper and happier learning environment�.
The approval followed after the draft of the policy was circulated to entertain public opinions and further aims to provide �stimulating and quality education to foster innovation, transformation and inclusive growth and development� by inculcating original thinking, creativity and problem solving�.
Minister in charge of Education Lahkmen Rymbui formally announced the approval of the policy here.
�In accordance with Article 45 and 21A of the Constitution of India, the State shall endeavour to provide Free and Compulsory Education to all children until they complete the age of 14 years� the policy stated.
The policy noted that as per the Census of 2011, the literacy rate in Meghalaya has increased to 74.43 per cent from 62.56 per cent in 2001. The State has more than 14,280 schools with approximately 9,00,000 students and 51,000 teachers.
However, the dropout rate is high and the retention rate is poor, especially of students beyond Class VIII. Moreover, the high repetition rate at the primary as well as upper primary level has led to a substantial percentage of overaged children at the secondary level.
�The survival (retention) rate drops to 48.1 per cent at grade 9 and further drops to 43.4 per cent at grade 10. The percentage of overage children at primary level is about 22 per cent while the same at upper primary level is 43 per cent. In some remote rural areas the percentage of overage enrolment can go upto to 65 per cent,� the policy observed.
The Education policy therefore stresses on improving school and higher education, teachers� education and training. Emphasis has also been put on improving Science and Mathematics studies, assessments and examinations.
In this regard, the Meghalaya School Improvement Programme (MSIP) provides a unique opportunity to advance the discussion around strategies that could support achievement of sustainable development goals in the State, the policy said.
Moreover, the existing multi-layered system of grants-in-aid, which is highly skewed in favour of the institutions under the deficit system, �is undesirable and should be progressively abolished�. On assessments and examinations, the policy stated that students should be provided a number of chances to retake one or more examinations within a three- or even a five-year period.
�Till then, they are �working toward the certificate�. Even after the expiry of this window, they should be free to attempt the whole exam in all subjects again. Hence, while it is possible to not succeed in passing an exam, no one ever definitively and permanently fails,� the policy said.
Moreover, the policy suggested that a statutory body of the State Higher Education Council be established to oversee the functioning and coordination of higher education. The Council will be headed by a distinguished academician and the Director of Higher and Technical Education will be its Member Secretary.
The State Government will also explore the possibility of setting up a Meghalaya Education Park which will borrow from the concept of Special Economic Zones in order to attract foreign direct investment in Education.
On regulation and determination of fee in private-aided or unaided institutions of higher education, the policy said that the State�s intervention is required, but with a balance so that investors are not affected.