By Pramod Kumar
Enrolment of students in Bihar’s rural schools has increased but a steep fall in attendance, especially in the Magadh division, has become worrisome for the administration, officials said on Wednesday. Besides, a declining turnout of students is also a problem in government-run colleges in rural Bihar, they said.
Despite having a better pupil-teacher ratio in several rural schools, the attendance in classes varies from five to 10%, an education department official said. During surprise checks conducted recently by senior officers of the department, it was found that “classrooms in the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th standards were almost empty in several government schools in rural areas”, he said.
“Our team members got surprised to find that less than ten per cent of students were present in Class 9 and 11, while the attendance was less than five per cent in 10th and 12th standards,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
They made the surprise visits to schools in rural Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad, Jehanabad and Arwal on August 26. “Officials are analysing findings of their visits. We are also interacting with principals and parents to find a way to bring children to schools,” the official said.
Bihar has 42,573 primary, 25,587 upper primary, 2,286 secondary and 2,217 senior secondary schools. Asked about the findings of the department, Bihar Education Minister Chandra Shekhar told PTI, “I am aware of it. I am sure this scenario will soon change. Our government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has accorded top priority to education.” Teachers and guardians would have to find a solution to this problem, he said, adding that “please don’t force me to take strict steps to improve the situation”.
A similar exercise is expected to be carried out in Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj and Vaishali districts soon, another official said, adding that the turnout in rural colleges is also a matter of concern. “The department has recently sent a letter to vice-chancellors of all universities in the state, asking them to introduce a biometric attendance system for students from January 2023,” the official said.
It is also taking several measures to improve students’ attendance in schools and colleges, he said. “Education has been provided with the maximum allocation in the state budget. Altogether Rs 51,000 crore has been earmarked for it in the current financial year,” the minister said.
According to the Bihar Economic Survey (2021-22), around 36.5 per cent of students, who are enrolled in standard I, are unable to complete their secondary education. The proportion of students completing their higher secondary education is even lower, it said. “A high enrolment rate of students does not carry much significance if the dropout rates are also high. The phenomenon of substantial dropout before completing the desired education level is a problem in Bihar.
“All the factors behind such dropout may be broadly distributed under three categories—economic, social and cultural, and school environment and infrastructure. In the case of Bihar, all these factors are operational in varying degrees,” the survey said.
With inputs from PTI