Shillong, July 22: Over 1,900 students from 9 campuses across Ri Bhoi, North Garo Hills, West Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills and Eastern West Khasi Hills Districts graduated from Soft Skills and Talent Identification programmes under Aspire Meghalaya at simultaneous functions held in their respective school premises today. Altogether over 5,000 youth across the state have participated in the Soft Skills training phase of the Aspire Meghalaya programme in over 25 campuses since the programme launched in March. Over 65,000 youth have already participated in the first leg of Aspire this year, marking the state’s largest youth engagement programme under the Meghalaya Youth Survey, 2022.
Aspire Meghalaya is a unique initiative of the Dept. of Sports and Youth Affairs, Government of Meghalaya, that seeks to empower adolescent youth and young adults with critical soft skills, life preparedness and talent recognition opportunities. The programmes are supported by the State Education Mission Authority of Meghalaya (SEMAM) under the Dept. of Education, Government of Meghalaya and is implemented by AVENUES, Meghalaya based Personal Excellence Social Enterprise.
Speaking at a graduation function held in Umden, Shri Shivansh Awasthi (IAS), Under Secretary, Dept. of Sports and Youth Affairs, remarked “The team spirit that humans have is like none other. The importance of values is something that I hope all of you have learned in these two weeks of Aspire. The most unique feature of this programme is that it encourages you to think as a society and encourages you to think about your own individual talents,” he said. He went on to express his desire to see talents emerge from each campus so that the Government can take necessary action to link youth with matching skilling and talent development opportunities. “Our job is to recognise the talents identified through programmes such as Aspire and support them to take their capabilities forward towards more productive lives and futures,” he added.
Staline Ch Marak, Class 12, Tura Government College, shared her experience with the training programme saying, “One of the most valuables lessons that Aspire has taught me is Confidence. I may not speak well enough now but, because of what my trainers have taught me during these sessions, I am able to stand in front of you and conquer my fear.” She went on to say how she was compelled to forego her studies because of long-term illness and how it broke her confidence. “Aspire has taught me that to be confident is to trust in myself. You are the leader of your life. Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone is unique, talented and beautiful in their own way,” she added.
Speaking at a separate graduation organised in Tura, Shri Vibhor Aggarwal (IAS), SDO, Dadenggiri Civil Sub-Division, West Garo Hills District, encouraged the graduates to make use of every opportunity. He said, “No one has succeeded in life without speaking up, without expressing what their aspirations and expectations for the future are, and what they have to offer the world.” He also urged Principals and teachers to organise similar workshops and talent competitions on a regular basis, where students can practise their speaking skills and showcase their talents. “It is a common belief that we must leave our hobbies to seek employment. But the fact of the matter is that such hobbies, skills and talents will help you when you grow up, not just with respect to careers but in terms of personality development as well,” he added as he motivated the students to identify and follow their passions.
A highlight of the day was a moving performance of popular Hindi song “Love You Zindagi” by students in Garobadha, as a celebration of the goodness of life. At a time when drug abuse and mental health related issues are rampant across the State, one of the core objectives of the Aspire curriculum is to instil in young adults shared values that stem from self-love, personal dignity, and respect for life. Facilitators of the programme use music and popular songs to help young students rediscover human connection and basic values through lyrics. The curriculum is designed to instil in tribal youth, common minimum soft skills such as improved Communication, Clarity of Thought, Critical Thinking, Emotional Resilience and Confidence, needed to help them recognise their potential and forge pathways for themselves towards wholesome lives and careers. Career exploration modules help students expand their career domain quotient and prepare the youth for career selection. The Training programmes are conducted on each campus for a period of 10 days.
The graduation programmes are a significant milestone for Aspire and feature the campuses’ top talents vying to be selected for a District-level talent recognition platform. Performances across various arts spaces such as singing, dancing, beatboxing and visual arts, instrumental music, body sport and storytelling marked the day. Talent Identification is a key focus of the programme, and top talents will be documented and connected to forward opportunities to help propel youth aspirations in the State and open-up alternative careers.
The 9 campuses included St. Joseph’s Higher Secondary School, Umden and Ri-Bhoi College, Nongpoh in Ri Bhoi; St. Thomas Higher Secondary School, Salpara and Mendipathar College in North Garo Hills; St. Dominic Savio Secondary School, Garobadha and Tura Government College in West Garo Hills; Mairang Presbyterian Science College and Khadsawphra College in Mairang, Eastern West Khasi Hills; and Sibsing Memorial Government Higher Secondary School, Nongstoin in West Khasi Hills.
It may be mentioned that Aspire Meghalaya is expected to impact 10,000 young adults in 60+ campuses across 12 districts of the State.