THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government is all set to secure a loan of $100 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for implementing the student-oriented Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP) in the state.
The Cabinet has given its approval for securing the loan -- which comes to approximately `610 crore -- NORKA Affairs and Rural Development Minister K C Joseph told reporters during a post-Cabinet briefing.
The Additional Skill Acquisition Programme envisages equipping students of government, government-aided higher secondary schools and arts and science colleges in the state with skills to enhance their ‘employability.’
The state would receive `300 crore as the first instalment, said Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb. “The interest on the loan is one per cent and the loan has to be be repaid by 2034,” Rabb said. The major chunk of the loan amount will be used to for skill enhancement programmes and establishment of related infrastructure.
The state government has plans to establish ‘Skill Parks’ across the state. These parks will act as local-level nodal agencies for ASAP.
“These parks would come up in all Assembly constituencies. ASAP is designed in such a way that when a student completes the regular academic programme, he or she is also handed a certificate in a specific skill. This will enhance their placement possibilities considerably,” Rabb said.
Kerala’s past brushes with ADB loans have not been exactly rosy. ADB loans secured for the Modernising Government Programme (MGP) and the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development project (KSUDP) in the past had spiralled into major political controversies over the terms and conditions.
Dogged by controversies
Controversies have unerringly dogged the state’s past efforts to secure loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The first attempt was made in 2001-2003 for the Modernising Government Programme (MGP), which the CPM vehemently opposed. This was followed by the loan to five corporations for the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) of $316.1 million during 2006-07. This kicked up a row over fears that basic services like water supply would get privatised. Also, the very nature of terms of conditions would undermine decentralisation, it was alleged.