Amid the hullabaloo over Bihar toppers scam, the state education minister Ashok Choudhary today said Bihar government is committed to provide quality education and that school dropout rate has declined significantly in last few years.
“The state government has worked a lot on development of infrastructure. We are contemplating as how to ensure quality education. In his ‘seven resolves’, the Chief minister has included quality education. The government is sensitive and committed towards providing quality education,” Choudhary said after releasing UNICEF report ‘The State of the World’s Children: A Fair Chance to Every Child’.
He also released a ‘Teachers’ handbook on inclusive learning for secondary schools in Bihar’ prepared by Bihar Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad (BMSP) with the support from the UNICEF.
Stating that a lot of development work has taken place in education sector in the past one decade, the minister said development meant investment in people especially in children and for this everyone concerned should work for ensuring quality education.
Talking about dropout rates, Choudhary said that they have declined to 2.1 per cent in 2014-15 from 11.4 per cent in 2006.
Similarly, the student-teacher ratio had also improved in the state. There was one teacher for 78 students in 2004-05, but now there was one teacher for 50 students in 2014-15, he said, adding that the state government was spending Rs 2,200 crore with the help of World Bank for imparting training to teachers by 2020.
Stating that there has been a significant change in enrolment at elementary levels, the minister said that gross enrolment ratio at primary level had registered an increase from 86 per cent in 2007 to almost 99.9 per cent in 2015 while in case of upper primary NER (net enrolment ratio) had increased from as low as 32.7 per cent to 87.6 per cent.
“We are doing better than Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat on NERs,” Choudhary said.
“We have to work hard to improve the quality of education across the state. We have started Operation Clean to do away the malpractices in the field of education,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, UNICEF chief (Bihar) Yameen Mazumdar said as per World Bank data, 4.9 per cent of GDP was spent on education globally in 2010 whereas India spent 3.3 per cent of its GDP on education.
But Bihar was showing a positive sign with education continuing to remain on top of its priority with the allocation of 15.31 per cent for education in 2016-17 Budget, he said.
Classrooms have become more inclusive, girls’ share to total school enrollments now stood at 50 per cent, Mazumdar said and added that enrollments amongst Dalits, OBCs and other minorities registered an increase.
Talking about the challenges, he said 11 lakh children were still out of school and approximately 45.8 per cent elementary teachers untrained in Bihar.
“The learning achievement is above national average in Maths which is a good sign, but we are less than the national average in language and social sciences in Bihar,” he said.
Net enrollment at secondary level continued to be low at 47.9 per cent, he said.
Former Chairperson of National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights Shanta Sinha lauded the efforts of the state government for reducing the dropouts in schools, increasing enrollment ratio especially that of girls.
In order to impart quality education, schools have to be ready for first generation learners, he said, adding that schools would have to be a place of non-discrimination of any type, Sinha said.
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