Not only the candidates but the system, teachers and the parents are to be blamed for the deteriorating standards of education in Bihar. For restoring the glory of Bihar, reforming education from within requires a tremendous political will
Nishant Kr Azad
I am a Bihari and have always been proud of that mainly for the heritage we inherit. But the recent topper scam is one the most embarrassing moments for many like me. Newspapers and news channels are continuously mocking Bihar for its education system, that is painful and haunting for many proud Biharis.
Bihar was once known for its glorious education system. It has been a major centre of learning for foreign students and home to most prestigious universities like Nalanda and Vikramshila. With the destruction of those centres by Muslim aggressors, the radition was immensely damaged. In the modern period, Bihar saw a revival during the latter part of the British period as University at Patna was established with other centers of high learning. Early lead was lost in the post ’67 coalition era, when English was made optional and use of unfair means in examinations began to be encouraged. This was all the more encouraged by the Congress Government during the JP Movement (1974-76) to persuade students to attend examinations. The situation reached nadir during 15 years of Jungle Raj Part-I when even little funding available to these institutions was made scarce for encouraging charwaha schools.
There is no dearth of talent in Bihar and the proof is handy when one witnesses the results of UPSC and IIT. There are many students of Bihar who are making their mark in every walk of life. According to a report published by a leading magazine, Bihar is considered as one of the big churners of IAS. It accounts for nearly 450 out of total 5,500 IAS officers in the country. The highest numbers of IIT, IAS, IPS & IFS aspirants are from Bihar. Almost one-fourth, who qualified for IAS and IPS in the last ten years, belongs to Bihar.
Last year a photo went viral which showed parents scaling a multi-storied building to help their kids cheat in an exam and now the topper scam. Both the incidents have raised several questions over the educational system of Bihar. The core question is : Where does the fault lie?
Incompetent teachers: Unimaginably incompetent teachers are hired by the state government for primary school, most of them with fake degrees and are untrained in teaching skills. Last year, altogether 1,400 primary teachers have resigned from service in Bihar fearing government action over fake degrees.
School meant for freebies, not for education: Most of the students in villages go to schools for the free meals, bicycles and other freebies that the government uses to lure them to schools. Education takes a back seat.
Corruption in the system: Wrong people at the wrong places lead to tragedy like this. The political process, educational boards and social systems, all are responsible for degrading values, corrupting education is the first symptom of the same.
Anuvesh, a student from Bihar says, “Two back to back incidences of parent/relative scaling wall to pass chit to their wards in Bihar board exam and, in 2016, Bihar intermediate Humanities topper fails even to pronounce her subject name in which she topped brought sudden attention for long rotten education system of Bihar.”
“What we witnessed is the outcome of corrupt system prevailing in Bihar education department and multi-dimensional failure. Few among the many reasons are lack of infrastructure, lack of teachers (forget about quality), lack of proper monitoring of class conduct or mid day meal scheme. All need to be addressed efficiently in time bound frame or else those who are already left on the margin will be alienated further as private quality education is still a distant dream for majority in Bihar especially in the era of commercialisation of education”, he added.
Analysing the scenario Dr Nalini Kant Jha, Professor of Political Science & Director UGC Center for Southern Asian Studies Pondicherry Central University, Puducherry told to Organiser, “The recent news about fraud in Bihar school examination, in which the topper could not even correctly pronounce the name of the subject, has brought the dismal state of education in the State to the fore. Not surprising, modern Bihar has an inadequate educational infrastructure creating a huge mismatch between demand and supply. Increase in population has further compounded the problem. Researchers found out that 37.8% of Bihar’s teachers could not be found during unannounced visits to schools, the worst teacher absence rate in India and one of the worst in the world.
In spite of the meager investment on education in Bihar, compared to other poorer Indian states, the students have done well. National institutes of learning such as IIT, IIM and AIIMS, IISER, NISER have had a good representation from Bihar. Some of the talented Biharis who are teaching outside the state and living like refugees were hoping to come back to the state. But the return of Jungle Raaj has made them to forget their dream of serving Bihar.
Prashant (name changed), a government school teacher in Bihar expressed anguish over the whole issue and said, “Education, the single most essential pillar in society building has been so ruthlessly ruined in Bihar that it’s impossible to even recognize the face of it. Everyone, from leaders to general public, boasts of its legacy of being educated, but those are just a matter to quote as manipulated statistics. From government to teachers at ground zero, none seem to be accountable. First you need to be deserving and resourceful enough to carry on your duties. But, here, complete recruitment is a quack. This wayward attitude of system and related personnels has also thrown heavily on parents’ mindset. Either they themselves resort to malpractices or starve their self to provide better opportunities to their wards outside the state.”
There must be some exceptions at personnel level, but, to be very honest, the situation is alarming. It has become a vicious circle, where there is no way out. I would call it dramatic which eventually gets traumatic.
The statement of Ruby Rai is much more revealing. She never wanted to top the exams and had only asked her father to arrange to secure enough marks to pass. Even Manu Maharaj, the Patna special SP who is heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the scam said to the media, “The arts topper was very forthright in accepting that she did not deserve to be a topper. She had expected second division at best. She now blames her guardians and Vishnu Roy College principal, Amit Kumar alias Bachcha Rai, for making her topper.” The blame goes more to the teachers, parents and the education board. They are the ones who should be slammed for bringing up the future of the country in this fashion.
Meanwhile the police have arrested Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) former chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh and his wife Usha Sinha, as well as the alleged kingpin of the scam, Bachcha Rai. He is alleged to have been manipulating, in collusion with the BSEB, the merit list of Class 12 examinees in favour of students who paid him bribes.
The need of the hour is to work in a top down approach. A strong political will, even at the cost of popular wrath, to clean up the mess is necessary for the future of the state and the nation. n