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'Admit Low Standard Of Education In State': Bihar Govt After Being Ranked In Bottom Five In NITI Aayog's Education Quality Index

The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government on Tuesday, February 23, accepted that there is a dire need to improve the quality of education in the state since it stood at a low level in nationwide rankings. There has also been a massive dropout of over 10 children due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

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At a time when the education sector has been massively disrupted due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, the substandard quality of education being provided in the state of Bihar has come under the radar.

According to The Times of India, Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government on Tuesday, February 23, accepted that there was a dire need to improve the quality of education in the state since it stood at a low level in nationwide rankings. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) member, Samir Kumar Mahaseth, pointed out the deterioration in the education levels and questioned the ruling government in the Assembly.

Taking cognisance of the fact that the state was ranked in the bottom five in the NITI Aayog's school education quality index, Education Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said that the government admitted to having scope for an enormous amount of improvement in terms of education quality. There were as many as 30 indicators carrying a weightage of 965 marks on which the schools were evaluated for the index. There were two broad categories namely Outcomes and Governance Processes Aiding Outcomes on which the schools were evaluated.

Chaudhary also listed the measures taken by the government to enhance the quality of education, he said, "We have started universities in Patlipura, Purnea and Munger. We have also opened middle and high schools in 8,385 village panchayats in the state. Besides, we had installed 2,000 and 4,000 laboratories, respectively, in middle and high schools in the last 3 years."

The minister also said that the recruitment of teachers is also being done but the matter is pending in the court, hence, it is getting delayed.

However, the top administrative heads of the existing universities have a different opinion. They say that establishing new universities will not be sufficient to bring the education system at par with universities in peer states.

Dolly Sinha, pro-vice-chancellor, Lalit Narayan Mithila University in Darbhanga said that most of the universities were understaffed and there was an urgent need to strengthen the existing universities.

"Considering, the youth population density and overburdened state universities, Bihar needs more universities without compromising on the quality of education. Just establishing new universities will not be sufficient to bring the education system at par with peer state universities," Sinha said.

"Government needs to give equal importance to the strengthening of the existing universities. They must be provided with physical and digital infrastructure. Laboratories are in the dire need of development. Earlier, we used to have a post of demonstrator to take care of lab sessions, now the post has been abolished, while no another substitute has been provided," she added.

Gyandeo Mani Tripathi, Dean of School of Educational Training and Research, Aryabhatt Knowledge University (AKU) said that although new universities would reduce the burden on the existing institutions, it was important to address the infrastructural challenges and resume hiring to eliminate the shortage of staff at the universities.

Over 10 Lakh Out-Of-School Children

It is crucial to note that the government, right now, is confronted with twin issues —to improve the education quality and to bring the students who have dropped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, back to school.

As per the official data, a total of 10 lakh students have dropped out of schools from various districts in the state during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, reported The New Indian Express.

The publication reported that a total of six lakh children, enrolled in classes 5 to 6 of government schools, dropped out while four lakh children from classes 8 and 9 quit their respective schools.

Taking the data from previous years into consideration, it has been found that maximum dropouts are witnessed at two stages —when students elevate from primary (classes 1- 5) to middle school (up to class 8) and from the middle to high school (classes 9-12).

According to several media reports, the state government is analysing the drop-out pattern and has introduced a 'management innovation system' to track and keep a check on the progress of every student till the undergraduate level.

To bring the students who have dropped out back to schools, the state Education Department will be reportedly launching 'Admission Drive' across the state from April. Reports have stated that the school headmasters, of primary to the high school level, have been tasked to carry out the admission drive on a larger scale.

"We have also finalised to conduct bridge-courses for all students in schools, whose courses could not be completed due to lockdown in the state," said Primary Education Department Dr Ranjit K Singh. He also said that the bridge course will continue for three months between April and June, for all classes.

Singh said that the students are being educated on using online platforms to complete their courses, particularly the 'Vidha-Vahni' app developed by the department which has the option to upload notes of all subjects on it.

Bihar Budget Allocation To Education

The state government on Monday, February 22, presented the state budget in the Assembly. The budget of over Rs 2.18 lakh crore for the fiscal year 2021-22 was presented. It has allocated the highest fund to the education sector of ₹38,035 crores which is an 8 per cent increase from the previous fiscal.

The state government in the budget has laid out provisions to award ₹25,000 to girls who pass intermediate exams and ₹ 50,000 to girls who complete their bachelor's degree.

Also Read: Mumbai Auto Driver Who Sold His House To Fund Granddaughter's Education Receives Rs 24 Lakh In Donation

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