Patna: The Bihar Government has taken some tough decisions to improve the education system of the State which are now yielding dividends in schools. However, in some places, parents and students are claiming lack of infrastructure and insensitivity by the administration.
Though the education department, especially Additional Chief Secretary KK Pathak, is making an all-out effort to improve Bihar’s education system and is taking some difficult decisions in the interest of students in the process, he is facing criticism. He is being accused of taking harsh decisions against the students and teachers.
KK Pathak recently directed the District Education Officers and Block Education Officers to serve notices to the parents of students who remained absent from school for three days in a row.
The officers were also asked to cancel the registration of students who remained absent from school for 15 days continuously. This became applicable from July 1 when the schools reopened after summer vacation.
According to an education department official, the registration of around 1 lakh students was cancelled due to their continuous absence from school for 15 days.
The officer also pointed out that West Champaran and Araria are two districts where registrations of more than 20,000 students have been cancelled so far. Around 7,000 students of Patna district, mostly from schools located in rural areas have lost their registrations so far.
The education department contends that some students have registered their names in Government schools just to avail of grants and that they attend school only for a few hours as they are studying in private schools or coaching centres.
The education department has made it clear that if any of the students who have lost their registration are interested in rejoining the school, the parents have to give an affidavit declaring that their wards would attend school regularly. The education department has also made it mandatory for students to get attendance above 75 per cent to become eligible for the Board examinations.
The tough decisions taken by KK Pathak are yielding dividends in some districts of Bihar. According to KK Pathak in some schools in Araria the attendance of students has reached a whopping 81 per cent from the earlier 20 per cent.
Such has been the success of the efforts made by KK Pathak that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has stood up for the Additional Chief Secretary and said that there was no point in criticising a good officer who wants to improve the education system of the State.
Though the education department is indeed doing a good job in some aspects it also needs to address the issue of poor infrastructure in some districts of Bihar that makes it difficult for students to reach school.
The most recent example of this is the boat tragedy that took place in Muzaffarpur on September 14. As many as 32 people, a majority of them schoolchildren, drowned in Bagmati River after the boat in which they were travelling overturned.
Though the locals managed to save 20 children, 12 of them drowned. The NDRF and SDRF have managed to fish out five bodies so far but seven are still missing and they are feared dead.
Some of the family members have slammed the education department for making 75 per cent attendance mandatory in schools when the infrastructure needed for the children to reach school safely is lacking. The September 14 mishap took place in Madhurpatti Village which is not connected to the mainland through a bridge, forcing the students to travel in an overcrowded boat.
LJP(RV) president, Chirag Paswan, visited the Madhurpatti Village on Saturday and consoled the family members of the victims of the boat tragedy. He slammed the local MP and MLA for failing to construct a bridge to connect the village to the mainland. He also accused Nitish Kumar of being insensitive.
Bihar is a State where around 22 districts are affected by floods every year. These districts are primarily in North Bihar and a large number of villages remain submerged in water for four to six months in a year. So how is it possible for students to reach and study in a submerged school?
If the education department wants students to attend school it needs to address these issues and come up with alternatives.
On September 12, students of a girl’s school in Vaishali district went on a rampage and vandalised school property and vehicles over lack of basic amenities there.
The agitating girls were demanding basic amenities like benches and toilets inside the Mahnar Girls High School premises. They blocked the Mahnar-Mohiuddin Nagar main road at Patel Chowk in a major protest against the education department.
A similar stir was registered in Rohtas district as well on September 12 where students claimed that the school toilets were dirty and there were no benches and fans, which made it impossible to study there.