Result fail: Tracking Bihar’s worst-performing district in state Board’s Class 12 exam

As Bihar Board’s Class XII pass percentage dips to 35.25, lowest in last two decades, the Indian Express travels to Vaishali, the worst-performing district.

Written by Santosh Singh | Published:June 27, 2017 5:22 am
 bihar, bihar education system, bihar class 12 exam, bihar exam scam, bihar topper scam, vaishali, bihar school, nitish kumar, india news, indian express At RSR Inter College in Jandaha, students say hardly 40 per cent classes are held. (Express Photo: Alok Jain)

AS BIHAR records its worst-ever performance in the state Board’s Class XII exams, with only 35.25 managing to pass, Vaishali, the seat of the topper scam last year, ended up at the bottom. With a pass percentage of 13.07, it fell way below Jehanabad at 21.11 per cent, Saran at 22.56, Lakhisarai at 23.68, Nalanda at 26.79, Madhepura at 28.75, and Banka at 29.22 per cent.

Not even 10 per cent of the students cleared the exam in 40 of Vaishali’s 70 schools and intermediate colleges, while between 10 and 15 per cent passed in the remaining 30. All eight students in the Arts stream at S S High School, Dayalpur, a ‘model school’ till 15 years ago in the district’s Rajapakad block, failed. In Science, only two of its 158 students passed.

At another school in the block, KSKMRDB Private College in Bhalui, one out of 42 students passed in the Arts stream and two of 213 in Science.

This year, over 12 lakh students from 3,183 schools in Bihar appeared for the Class 12 Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) test. Of these, 1,529 were private or unaided schools. Affiliation of 212 of the private schools was cancelled last year after they were found wanting in proper infrastructure, students’ attendance and inadequate number of teachers, while the state Board asked district magistrates to submit a report on the faculty, students and infrastructure of the remaining by August.

The BSEB continues to maintain that its “mandate is to take the examination and not improve the quality of education”. BSEB chairperson Anand Kishor and Bihar Education Minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary have been caught in a war of words, with the minister blaming the Board for not getting its system in place despite last year’s fiasco. “The result has shaken us, and the system,” he said.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, however, claimed that the results were positive. “We are trying to know the reasons for such results from respective schools. But this result shows the fairness of the Board examination,” he said. “There have been similar or worse results in other states but the media hardly talks about them.”

Choudhary, too, argued that a crackdown on use of unfair means such as cheating has resulted in the dip in pass numbers.

Most students of KRSR Higher Secondary School, Lawapur, say they go to coaching centres to make up for lost classes; (Express Photo: Alok Jain)

However, Nageshwar Sharma, former chief of Bihar Intermediate Education Council, which merged with BSEB in 2007, said there is a clear reason for the gloomy picture: the mushrooming of unaided colleges under the Nitish government. “One needs a minimum establishment cost of Rs 7 lakh per month to run any intermediate college. It requires at least 700 students (at Rs 1,000 monthly fees). But these unaided colleges do not hire teachers or run classes; they make students fill up forms and write exams for a cost,” Sharma said. “Such colleges were further helped by the government policy (of 2008) of giving grants against the number of students who passed in first and second divisions.”

With a corpus of Rs 300 crore, this policy was implemented from 2009-2010. The grant was put on hold after last year’s result.

In fact, one of the achievements that the Nitish government talks about – of boosting enrolment, and nearly doubling Class X student strength to 15-16 lakh after he took over as CM in November 2005 – came on the back of such private institutions. Private institutions were even allowed to admit a quota of non-attending students as per their infrastructure of classrooms and laboratories. Although a non-attending student has to pay a nominal registration and examination fees of around Rs 1,500, schools are known to charge up to Rs 10,000 to allow a student to write Class X exams under their aegis.

At Samta College, Jandaha, students and teachers blame each other’s absence for the lack of classes. Photos: Alok Jain

A private school owner said, “Where will students go if we close down our schools?”

As last year’s topper scandal showed, deals are struck at these schools to get students a first division. Patna SSP Manu Maharaj said, “Several such startling revelations have come up, right from managing examinations to evaluation centres.”

Education has figured among the top five priorities of the state government for 12 years. Between 2016 and 2017, the budget for education rose 17.74 per cent — to Rs 25,251 crore — although almost half of that money goes into salaries and establishment costs.

A look at the worst-performing schools in Bihar’s worst-performing district in Class XII results in Vaishali:

n Overall 13.96% pass (Science: 12.91%, Arts: 12.61%, Commerce: 57:30%)

n Number of colleges/schools, private and govt: 70

n Those with pass percentage of below 10: 40 schools/colleges

n Between 10 and 15 per cent: 30

KSKMRDB College, Rajapakad

Pass percentage: 1.17% overall (in 2015-16: 50%); Science 1.62% (2 of 213 students), Arts 2.38% (1 of 42)

Students: 310

Teachers: 12 (8 vacancies)

Maximum failures in Physics, followed by Chemistry, Maths and English

The double-storey private inter-college has a sprawling playground, 16 classrooms, two labs and five toilets (two of these for girls). While it registers record attendance of 75 per cent, students and locals say there are never more than 20 per cent students present at any point of time. Most students study at coaching centres in Hajipur. Asked whether classes are held regularly, a student said: “11 baje late nahin, 3 baje ke baad bhet nahin (It’s okay to come until 11 am, leave before 3 pm).”

S S High School, Dayalpur, Rajapakad

Pass percentage: 1.2% (in 2015-16: 40%); Science: 1.56 % (2 of 158 students), Arts 0% (8 of 8 fail)

Students: 210

Teachers: 5 (5 vacancies)

Maximum failures in Physics, followed by Chemistry, Maths and English

Until 15 years ago, this was a ‘model school’, with special scholarships to attract meritorious students. The government school has five classrooms, with a thick growth of grass outside classrooms of Class XII. There are three labs and four toilets, one of these for girls. While the administration claims 75-per cent attendance, students and locals say classes are rarely held.

RSR Inter College, Makkanpur, Jandaha

Pass percentage: 6.04% (in 2015-16: 55%); Science 5.28% (52 of 984 students), Arts 3.65% (8 of 219), Commerce 66.66% (14 of 21)

Students: 505

Teachers: 22 (3 vacancies)

Maximum failures in Physics, followed by Chemistry, Maths and English

Six teachers and the principal are present during the summer vacations at this private inter-college as students have to fill up forms for compartmental examination. They are happy that BSEB has allowed two subjects, instead of one in previous years, to reappear for exams. Principal Sitaram Roy showed around his seven classrooms and made special mention of the white boards bought recently. Asked whether teachers get regular salaries, he said, “Hum log bittrahit hai, bas mila julakar gujara kar lete hai (we are an unaided college, we manage somehow).” The register shows 75 per cent-plus attendance, students say it’s never more than 40 per cent.

KRSR Higher Secondary School, Lawapur, Vaishali

Pass percentage: 9.06% (in 2015-16: 45%); Arts 1.26% (1 of 79), Science 8.26% (30 of 263)

Students: 200

Teachers: 16 (no vacancies)

Maximum failures in Physics, followed by Chemistry, Maths and English

The two-storey government school has 12 classrooms, labs and two toilets (no separate ones for girls). The school register shows an attendance of 50% for Class 12, but students say most of them go to coaching centres in Hajipur. “I will write my Class XII exam next year. Since classes are not held here, I go to a coaching centre in Hajipur,15 km away, and live there. My parents have to spend Rs 1,500 a month,” said one student.

Samta College, Jandaha, Vaishali

Pass percentage: 11.61% (in 2015-16: 51 per cent); Arts 5.7% (30 of 520 students), Science 14.04% (181 of 1,289)

Students: 1,170

Teachers: 22 (11 vacancies)

Maximum failures in Maths, followed by Physics, Chemistry and English

This government school is now called MSM Samta College after RLSP chief and Union Minister of State for HRD Upendra Kushwaha’s father. It has 10 classrooms, functional labs, and 14 toilets (five of them for girls). Abhishek Kumar, among those who failed in Class XII, said, “This school is no different from private colleges. There are hardly any classes.” Prof Vinod Kumar, who is set to take charge as principal, interrupted him: “Do you have a fixed school routine? If not, do not blame teachers. If students do not come, how do you expect teachers to hold classes?”

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