3182 students from 15 campuses across districts graduated from Aspire Meghalaya at functions held in their respective school premises this month. The Aspire Meghalaya programme places youth engagement, talent identification and career aspirations at the heart of its interventions. A key objective of the programme is to assess training gaps and talent potential in seen and previously unseen skill and talent domains amongst adolescents and young adults across the State.
The programme commenced its first phase in March earlier this year in its aim to provide a safe space for young voices to be heard, by approaching and engaging young adults between the ages of 14-20 across districts through the Meghalaya Youth Survey which had, till date, reached over 50,000 adolescent youths, constituting 30% of the target youth demographic of the State. The second phase of the programme was launched earlier this month to address the significant gap in life skills and career preparedness in the current education framework by imparting universally employable soft skills through on-campus Soft Skills and Life Preparedness interventions. Modules specially designed to build Confidence, Clarity of Thought, Communication Skills and Emotional Resilience were delivered through 20-hour, high-impact workshops over a period of 10 days in campuses across districts.
Speaking at one of the graduation functions, Salanbor Kamar, SSA office, Education Department, lauded the combined efforts of the participating campuses and the implementation agencyin successfully facilitating the 10-day programme in each campus. Addressing the students, he said, “This particular program is especially designed for you, the youth of the State, to help you find yourself, identify your hearts‟ desires and choose the right career for your future.” He further added that through the initiative, the District Sports Office under the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs would be able to provide guidance, particularly in sports related career options, with the hopes of seeing increased representation of Meghalaya in all National and International platforms.
Sameki Syngkon, Class 12, Ummulong Presbyterian Higher Secondary School, motivated his peers saying, “We all have our own talents, but we are sometimes too shy and afraid to show them. I believe we have all gained a lot from this programme, so let us remove all doubt and fear to display our talents. And when teachers call upon us in class and in school, we must not hesitate, but we must come forward with confidence.”
Addressing students at another one of the graduation events, Dimseritha A. Sangma, MCS, ADC, East Garo Hills District, said, “Not everybody can get the opportunity to witness, experience and process this kind of training. So cherish this precious stage in your lives.” She went on to stress how soft skills complement the micro and macro skills taught in classrooms and how together,these help prepare young minds to take on challenges in today‟s competitive world. She urged the teachers to incorporate the lessons taught during the programme in their teachings in class. “Make your classes interesting, appreciate the students‟ talents and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones,” she added.
A huge part of the Aspire Meghalaya initiative is the identification of emerging talents in remote areas of the State through a Talent Identification platform that is the third stage of the intervention. Talent exhibition platforms are being integrated into the initiative that places the participating campuses at the heart of the programme. Schools play a key role in identifying the top talents to represent their respective campuses at the district level. A District Talent Committee is formed to identify the top talents from each district who will then converge at a State Youth Summit, where the State‟s top talents will have been selected via public votes as the „Aspire Meghalaya Stars‟.
The graduating campuses included Government Girls‟ Higher Secondary School, Shillong in East Khasi Hills; Williamnagar Government Higher Secondary School and Green Yard Higher Secondary School in East Garo Hills; Baghmara Government Higher Secondary Schoolin South Garo Hills; Seinjat Tuber Higher Secondary School, Khliehriat Higher Secondary School and Ambrose Memorial Secondary Schoolin East Jaintia Hills; Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ummulong Presbyterian Higher Secondary School, Sawlyngdoh Higher Secondary School and St. Dominic Higher Secondary Schoolin West Jaintia Hills; Nirupama Memorial Secondary School, Rangsakona Higher Secondary School, AmpatiGovernment Higher Secondary School and St. Claret Higher Secondary Schoolin South West Garo Hills.
Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma launched the programme earlier this year as a flagship initiative under the Meghalaya Youth Engagement and Training Programmes. Speaking at the launch event, he said, “Aspire Meghalaya is a unique programme designed for the youth of our State. It provides young people with a platform to learn and develop the critical skill sets needed to build meaningful lives and careers with passion and self-belief, while also focussing on talent identification and wellbeing.
An initiative of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, Government of Meghalaya, the programme is supported by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) mission of the State Education Department‟s Directorate of School Education and Literacy (DSEL) and implemented by AVENUES, Shillong.