Chief Minister Youth Centres – A Catalyst for Alternative Learning and Skill Development in Meghalaya

Smart Village Movement, October 26, 2022

What does a well-rounded education mean in this Digital Age? Good reading skills, mathematics, the sciences, arts, and sports are all essential for students when mastered in their school years. But there is one critical element of learning and development that is hard to learn in the traditional schooling system – Problem-solving and hands-on, self-driven skill development.

Hon’ble Chief Minster at the launch of CMYC Chibra Agal

To supplement traditional schooling in Meghalaya, the Government of Meghalaya has launched twenty Chief Minister Youth Centres, or the CMYC, as an alternative self-learning and co-learning space for the rural youth. Speaking at the CMYC launch, the Chief Minister said that the Government emphasizes youth-centric programmes and policies. Initiatives such as the CMYC will further the Government’s endeavor to create the right environment for positive growth and productivity of youth in Meghalaya.

Chief Minster’s Youth Centre in Madanlyngkhi

CMYCs are alternative educational centres that are established in several districts in Meghalaya are independent learning spaces, designed and co-implemented by Project DEFY and Sauramandala Foundation to introduce experiential ways of learning for the people in rural areas. Learners of all ages can explore diverse subjects of interest like bakery, carpentry, coding, electronics, sports, arts, music, etc. In due course, they set their own goals and design their learning modules after choosing a specific subject to pursue.

Chief Minister’s Youth Centre in Sunei

The Innovation Fellow and Community Manager’s role is to facilitate learning and offer support and guidance to students who work in groups or independently on projects of their choice. Each centre has a component called “Nooks,” which is the main self-designed learning space, then the centre hosts a library stocked with a variety of books both in English and Khasi. There are also various educational games to foster critical thinking and decision-making skills. The CMYCs would also incorporate sports and arts as part of the scale-up to be able to reach more people in the community.

Kids in Library- a component of Salesforce Trailblazer Comunity Lab, Nongwah

A 17-year-old learner, Balmjingsuk, from the pilot learning centre in Sohrarim, shares, “I didn’t feel very determined to do well in studies until I joined the Salesforce Trailblazer Community Lab and started learning about Electronics and Circuit Design. Here, unlike school, I get to test my knowledge with practical projects. I was happy when I fixed all the chargeable lamps that were not working. I am keen on learning more and becoming an Electrical Engineer one day.”

Balamjingsuk Diengdoh – learning electronics and circuit designing

Sponsored by the Government of Meghalaya under the Smart Village Movement initiative, these spaces are designed and co-implemented by Project DEFY and Sauramandala Foundation and aim to bring together new self-learning methods for the community. These spaces can become potential centres of endless innovations and entrepreneurial initiatives for the youth of these rural communities. They can now be engaged as problem solvers in their communities by using available resources to address some practical challenges their communities face.

SVM Nodal Officer Mr. Ram Kumar interacting with learners at CMYC Madanlyngkhi

Learners Dari and Alpha from the pilot center “Sohrarim Salesforce Trailblazer Lab” shared, “While we were learning how to make soap, we tried to focus on the common problems of our villagers. These soaps can help acne-prone skin, dry skin, anti-aging, and more. We realize this learning can grow and want to learn more while sharing the knowledge with our community members”.

Pilot Project- Salesforce Trailblazer Community Lab- Sohrarim

The initiative started with a Smart Village Movement pilot program in Sohrarim and Nongwah called Salesforce Trailblazer Community Labs. Salesforce provided twenty 20 computers, and Sauramandala Foundation proposed the idea of a community learning space with a library in collaboration with Project DEFY, Open Door Project, and Tiny Owl. Curiosity Gym brought in another STEM-focused component. Once the pilot labs were determined to successfully provide innovative learning opportunities to the community, the Government scaled the operation to cover more districts with twenty more labs in September 2022. The new centres are being launched in 6 Districts of Meghalaya and will positively impact youth and the community in roughly 120 Villages from 12 blocks.

So far, about 200 learners of different age groups have utilized the space to learn new concepts and hone their skills independently with help of trainers. These centres will be a great addition to the efforts in fulfilling the goals of Meghalaya’s Youth Policy 2021. In Meghalaya, where about 74% of the population is under age 35, it is paramount that new initiatives propel a vision. This CMYC project conceptualizes the implementation and scaling of digital learning solutions and innovations to reimagine education and promotes skill development as a core component of education.

Map representation of CMYCs in Meghalaya

Learns in Salesforce Trailblazer Community Lab Nongwah

The existing spaces have already brought change and impacted learners’ lives. The library has captured the attention and interest of village children between the ages of 3 and 15. They are being taught poems, narrating stories, and encouraged to play games which help in building their cognitive skills and concentration.

During the pilot project, learners amazed everyone by creating a Convertible Chair cum Bed, a well-designed Bamboo Chair, Water Fountains cum Aquarium, Remote Controlled Car, a Barbeque grill using waste, etc.

Students also explored 3D designing, printing, and making key chain designs at the Innovation Hub. Some learned how to make a damaged emergency lamp work again with the knowledge of electronics, and some designed a Bamboo Light House, a showpiece, with the help of circuit design.

Fixing Emergency Lamp with the knowledge of electronics

“I never saw a computer in my whole life until I visited the Innovation Hub at Salesforce Trailblazer Lab. I have to climb 1500 steps from my village Diengsong to reach the centre, but what I achieve by coming here is worth more.” says, Damelarisha, 13 years old.

The CMYC is a promising new intervention that will propel the youth towards gaining new skills and confidence and help them be economically self-reliant and productive members of society through access to new opportunities in education, training, skill, and entrepreneurship development.

Learning through computer systems installed at the centres with internet

About the Government of Meghalaya Smart Village Movement: The Smart Village Movement in Meghalaya is a collaborative process facilitated by the SVM organization to create a Smart Village ecosystem. This collaboration between Government, Academia, Corporations, and Rural Communities fosters independence and sustainable rural development in Indian villages and other emerging markets. Our mission is to empower rural people through digital technologies and open innovation platforms to access global markets.

Check the story covered by Meghalaya Media. Links are given below: