How to improve education? Bihar asks students (Feature)

July 26th, 2011 - 11:52 am ICT by IANS  

Patna, July 26 (IANS) Vivash Kumar Jha is both nervous and excited. The overwhelming feeling of topping the Class 12 board exams had not even sunk in when the 17-year-old got a call from the education board, asking for suggestions to improve the quality of education in Bihar.

Vivash is among the 47 Class 10 and 12 toppers handpicked by the state government for an ingenious initiative to better the standards of basic education in a state that occupies the bottom berth in the national literacy rate rankings.

“It will help the government understand the ground realities and identify problems, which will eventually help in taking measures to ensure quality education,” Human Resource Development (HRD) principal secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said.

Priti Kumari, Anurag Kumar Gupta, Shalini Yadav, Khushboo Kumari, Aman Hussain, Vivash… all are upbeat that their young voices will be heard in the government corridors.

“I am happy and nervous. But I am also preparing and thinking of the idea that will go a long way in improving the education system,” Vivash told IANS over telephone.

Khushboo, who topped the Class 10 board exams last year, is equally thrilled. “Education should be pro-poor; I believe that’s one suggestion I might like to give,” she said.

“The government has selected 47 toppers from the last five years,” said Lalan Jha, an official of the Bihar School Examination Board.

Besides improvement in basic education, skill development and vocational training are also areas in focus. The government is also mulling launching special programmes to cater to the academic aspirations of minorities and backward classes.

“All selected toppers will attend special meetings in August and September this year to share their ideas with top government officials,” Singh said.

These suggestions could be useful in formulating an action plan on National Education Day (Nov 1), which is observed on the birth anniversary of country’s first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

Two months ago, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had directed the HRD department to constitute the ‘Baal Parishad’ (children’s council) comprising boys and girls who topped in Class 10 and Class 12.

“A children’s committee has been constituted,” Singh said.

More than 80 percent of toppers in the state this year belonged to rural areas, which lack in basic amenities.

Nitish Kumar has repeatedly said he is committed to improving education standards. He has on more than one occasion said that primary and secondary education in Bihar is not so good.

The chief minister recently stated that over 2.5 million children in the age group of 6-14 were “out of school” in 2006, but their number has gradually declined and now come down to 600,000.

He said that to improve the literacy rate, the focus would be on appointing trained teachers, ensuring good classrooms and drinking water facility, besides toilets at every school.

HRD Minister P.K. Shahi told IANS that the government has decided to launch a new education programme on Independence Day to improve attendance in schools by students.

It will ensure 100 percent attendance in schools, Shahi said.

The HRD minister appealed to the people to extend cooperation to the government as the “task will be difficult without public participation”.

The 2011 Census records the literacy rate in Bihar at 63.8 percent while the national average is 74 percent.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at imran.k@ians.in)

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