Bihar under Nitish has done extremely well if I base my assessment on the reports appearing in print media over a period. A report on its polio eradication programme is an example. Bill Gates, who participated in that through his foundation, talked very high about Bihar’s leadership and Nitish Kumar.
Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, recently lauded the ‘Bihar model’ and requested other countries to replicate the way it successfully used immunisation programmes to eradicate polio. Levine writes, “In Bihar, I think three critical pieces have come together. You have the perfect building blocks of the system: you have the Anganwadi workers, you have Asha, and the critical frontline workers who are responsible for mobilising communities and delivering vaccines and counselling parents.” According to Levine, the three things — political will, the solid base of building blocks and the feedback mechanism through polio workers — are coming together nicely in Bihar.
However, the quality education, and that too in the rural regions, of the state is nowhere near desired standard. A special drive would have gone into the education to make the teachers and the students proficient in language, be it Hindi or English. Every parent and person would have been touched with the project of education. Every time I come across a teacher, a boy or the girl during my occasional visit to my state, I try to ask few simple questions to access the education that is being imparted and I don’t find any improvement. Naturally, I have many questions flooding my mind:
What I wonder if Bihar can improve itself in so many areas, why can’t the same be done with education?
Can the chief minister as well as the education minister with his bureaucrats, babus and teachers take up the mission of making Bihar a Kerala or better than that in the field of education?
Can there be consensus on the need of universal good quality education and skill training in all the stakeholders? Can the education sector be made apolitical in real sense? Can the whole of the government machinery make it mission in the same way as it did in case of polio?
Can the government find a way out for not engaging the teachers in tasks such as midday meals, census or election? Can the rural schools have its teachers living in vicinity of the school? Can each school create an endowment fund to develop it?
Can the schools, students and teachers be brought in a competitive mode for excelling in all curricular and extracurricular activities of sports, games, creative arts and scientific projects? Can the government look for the difficulties of the teachers and students to excel in their tasks and solve it?
Can there be some frequent exchanges of students between urban and rural schools or with the schools of other developed states? Can even the students of the remotest villages be taken on education tours in the country? Can the school authority arrange interactions of the students with icons in different fields and its own alumni who have created a success story?
Why can’t there be a drive that all children (6-14age group) out of school during school hours are taken to the school? How can the percentage of dropouts that is at 3.7%, a pretty high number if it is expressed as actual number of children, be tolerated?
Why is the government trying to do everything itself and not involving the interested private persons in the education sector?
As reported, “More than nine lakh students would take the Bihar board’s Intermediate exams this year scheduled to commence from February 18. Another 14 lakh students will take the Bihar board’s Class X exams which will start on March 12. ”
Why is there so big a difference between the number of children appearing for high schools and that for higher secondary examination every year? Why can’t this gap be bridged by introducing professional courses for those who can’t pursue higher education? A majority of the lot doesn’t find schools for their intermediate education near the school from where they appeared for class X.
Bihar must transform all high schools into school for higher secondary course and provide all infrastructures.
Hardly any college teaching humanities, commerce, science in Bihar appear in the list of the country’s best colleges. The government must appreciate that the students of Delhi University are as hot in demand as the students from the professional colleges by the industry. There is hardly any effort in improving the image of the education in Bihar. Can the state open its colleges to the students from anywhere in India and see how many come to it? Students from north eastern region would have come to Bihar but hardly any one comes.
Bihar has missed the mushrooming wave of engineering and management colleges as it happened years ago in Southern and Western part of the country. UP, Uttarakhand and Himachal have experienced that in the last decade. More than few lakhs of the students from Bihar go out of the state for higher education. Bihar must work to improve the image of its educational institutes at all cost.