Education and Nitish

Nitish boasts of his growth model. His education minister P.K. Shahi highlights the issue of poor quality of education. “Bihar is “sitting on volcano” and corrective measures must be taken to improve the system.”

Nitish, an engineer by education, could not do much in so many years for educating the deprived class to come out of poverty in real term. But why should he? The school children are not voters, nor their parents appreciate what good education means. They are happy enough with midday meals. The boys and girls in the rural primary schools of the state hardly learn even the basics reading and writing of the languages taught, may it be Hindi or English. Arithmetics end with some numbers and tables. However, I give Nitish credit for building school buildings that are pretty visible because of its shade of paint. But all these buildings miss a boundary wall with gates and locks and do not have security arrangement to avoid pilferages. Under the present conditions, no school can have a library or laboratory of any kind. Panchayats in Bihar are only on paper. There are hardly any meeting where all the villagers assemble and discuss the issues such as education in the local schools or other development plans of the village.

According to education department sources, though the enrolment rate of students in government schools is as high as 90 per cent, the attendance is less than 50 per cent. In some districts, it is even less than 30 per cent. “The biggest reason behind poor quality education in government schools is lack of insufficient teachers. The student-teacher ratio in high schools (classes IX, X) is 163:1, which is huge. Moreover, contract teachers account for more than 70 per cent of the total number of teachers in Bihar.”

In last May, I was in few villages of Bihar. As usual, I kept on talking about the education with many acquaintances who are teachers. As I understand, the students of the poorer families get themselves enrolled in government upper schools in the towns, but they are hardly any teachers taking classes in these schools. In most of the cases, the students are prodded to join the coaching centres there manned by the same teachers who are employed in the schools. The government education system is dead. It has become a business where there are coaching centres that take responsibility for getting the attending students passed in various examinations, board or competitive ones. Unfortunately, Nitish Kumar whom everyone in Bihar thought will contribute in improving the quality of education in Bihar didn’t contribute significantly.

And the lesser is said about the institutions of higher education in Bihar, the better it will be. There are hardly any state colleges of engineering worth any value. It is only Bihar that could not get good private professional colleges of management, engineering or medicine established, so a large number of the students are to go out of the state for higher education and are forced to spend much more that what they would have done with those institutions in their own state.

Bihar under the two term rule of Nitish Kumar could have done a lot for skilling its young men and women by establishing a large number of private training schools, but Nitish couldn’t go beyond few ‘Hooner’ established for the girls of minority community. I don’t understand why

I know it will hardly bother Nitish. Nitish knows how to collect fund for his party’s election fund. Bihar’s growth story is that of construction sector and roads carried out by the contractors. Each contract contributes to the election fund, as I was told by someone engaged in this job. Recent grant by the centre of Rs. 4130 crore for rural road construction will be a boon for the survival and prosperity of Nitish’s party and party men. I don’t if it is bribe of a sort by the party ruling at the centre.

I wish Nitish takes some lessons from the teleconferences used by his today’s political opponents and use the technology in extensive way for rural education- formal for the poor and deprived students and informal for their parents.
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