A small neighbourhood where I live has about ten houses and not less than ten educated unemployed youths and the educational background of these youngsters range from matriculate to graduate. Most of them studied art stream so job opportunity is indeed very difficult, and it is a known facts that almost all localities in the urban areas of the state is having this similar situation where young people are endlessly waiting for a job. Then I look at the growing numbers of young people who enrolled themselves in the schools and colleges and I can’t help but wonder how and where are these young people going to get employment?
In a meeting organized by the Jaintia Youth Federation in which Bindo Lanong the Deputy Chief Minister was the chief guest on the occasion, this issue was brought to light that the district and the state has a huge population of educated unemployed youth. The Deputy Chief Minister expressed his surprise the fact that people from the other parts of India or even from other countries come to Jaintia to get employment while the young people of the district remain unemployed. A coal baron who is also one of the speaker nods in agreement with what Bindo has just said. I can understand the chuckle of amusement of the coal baron, it is easy for him because he can travel in his air-conditioned SUV and don’t have to expose himself to the heat and dust. Can we imagine an educate young man or woman to slug it out in the heat and dust or worst still get into the rat hole and mine? Why are they being educated if they have to end up doing a menial job like that? It is the duty of the government to respect their dignity and to provide them employment befitting their qualification. It is also believed that industrialization will help solve the employment problem but how much can the cement companies employed? It is also a known fact that the cement companies prefer outsiders than local because they said “the locals don’t have industrial culture.” So, how can we provide employment to our young ones? Some adventurous young men and women went outside the state in search for a greener pastures but what about the average young people?
I am not the first one to blame the education system in the state for creating this gigantic problem but the purpose of this write-up is not to dwell in the past and go on criticizing the government for not doing enough to ensure a better future of our young people. This write-up hopes to suggest ways and means for the government and even educational institutions to take into consideration and improve the employability of the educated youth of the state. By introducing the examination reform; the education department is already on the right track and as mentioned earlier our concern is not with the section of the youths who did well in their studies but the average young people the second-divisioners and the third-divisioners which roughly constitute not less than 60 percent of the youths’ population. The 100 percent cut off mark for admission is certainly beyond what this section of the class can think of, but that is not the end of the world for them, there is a lot that the government can do to help this section of the youth. Thanks goodness, quite a few of them gain employment as teachers in the schools under the SSA but even young people know that the government cannot employ the entire workforce available in the state, but the question is what are the available option?
An old man on his dead-bed summoned his only son and tells him that he want to give him the land that he has farmed for many years. He know his son who is educated is not interested with the land or farming for that matter, so he told his son that he hid all the wealth he earned during his entire life in the field. One day after his father’s death; the son decided to go to the field to ploughs and dig the whole plot of land. But unfortunately he did not find any wealth; he went home dejected wondering where his father hid the wealth. Since it is also the onset of the sowing season he decided not to waste the labour that he had spend to plough the land, he thought to himself ‘I might as well start planting rice in the field.’ When the harvest is done his field yield more that he had expected, it then dawn on him that the wealth his father hid is the paddy field itself.
Social activist A.K. Nongkynrih of the Sociology department NEHU has time and again emphasised on the need of empowering the rural folk. If we want to improve the economy of the state we need to focus our attention on the villages and how else can it be when more than 80 percent of the population resides in the villages. He once reminded the audience that for everything we need we import from outside the state, we spend crores of money importing fish from Andhra Pradesh, we also spend crores of money importing pigs and cows to be slaughtered and satisfy our appetite. We even import safety pins and matchbox and export nothing except our mineral resources. How do we expect the economy of our state to improve if we have nothing to export and our youths are not gainfully employed?
Now many farming families in the villages sent their kids to schools hoping that they may get a better job, but the idea is to let brilliant students (the 100 percent) continue with their studies because we also need doctors, engineers, teachers and what have you, but we can teach average students’ different skills from higher secondary onward. After class 10 results average students can choose to continue their higher secondary school combine with training on skill like fish farming, piggery farming, poultry farming and etc. Students who in spite of ‘the best of five system of examination’ barely manage to scrape through should be encouraged to take the training. I don’t see the need of having a Polytechnic or an ITI to train trainees trades that will not help them gainfully employed but only increase the numbers of people waiting for government job. We need to teach students skill that will help them go back to the field and start farming and may be even create more employment; trades that have ready market available locally.
How do we go about it? Well we have Agriculture department, Fishery, Animal Husbandry, Industries and commerce even at the Block level, departments can chalk out programmes with schools or the Inspectors/Deputy Inspectors of School to conduct these trainings. Government can provide funds to these departments to conduct a workshop in all the higher secondary schools of their respective blocks/sub division and train students in the various job oriented programmes that their offices or departments can offer. For instance a farmer’s programme (Kisanwani Programme) is already on air in collaboration between the various departments and the All India Radio.
I hope this will help the young people employ themselves and it will also reduce if not stop the urban migration. This way the government can make use the best of machineries available to create employment for our educated young people and also improve the economy of the state. Then the cores of money gain from selling our mineral resources will circulate in the state itself and benefit everybody the state. One hopes that the MUA government will start making job creation an agenda of the government if we do not want our young people to squander their life or may be even create a problem for the state in the near future. It is also hope that the proposed MBOSE open school system of the education department to introduce locally need trade and not to copy whatever the NIOS had in its syllabus.