Bengal, known for its rich history and intellectual legacy, is witnessing a grim decline in its educational system. Once celebrated as the intellectual capital of India, Bengal is now grappling with a severe crisis in its academic institutions. In the pre-independence era and for several decades thereafter, Bengal stood as a beacon of industry and intellect. The state produced a multitude of intellectuals with diverse talents who excelled in various fields. However, the Bengal of today is a mere shadow of its former self, caught in a rapid state of decay.
A recent notification from a college in Bengal has thrown the deteriorating state of education into sharp relief. This notification has not only undermined the value of academics but has also shown disregard for the hard work and aspirations of Bengal’s students who wish to pursue careers in the intellectually stimulating field of academics.
The recent notification released by a college in Bengal, which makes it possible for students with poor academic records to be admitted to higher education programs, is just one more example of the decline in the state's educational system. pic.twitter.com/cHT1hozKU8
— Mohit Singh (@coolindian) September 20, 2023
The notification, as seen in the provided image, reveals that the per-class rate for a lecturer is a mere Rs 100. This paltry sum serves as a stark reminder of the devaluation of education in the state. It belittles the academic accomplishments of students who have invested substantial resources and effort into their education. Such a token amount is an insult to the dedication and commitment of those who aspire to become educators.
₹100 per class for so called civic lecturers. State of education in West Bengal. pic.twitter.com/gWTv1HWBVR
— Aparna (@chhuti_is) September 17, 2023
The notification also exposes widespread corruption in the state’s educational system. Teachers and administrators are often appointed on the basis of political connections rather than on the basis of merit, and this has led to a deterioration in the quality of education. The decline in education in West Bengal is having a serious impact on the state’s students. Many students are dropping out of school, and those who do graduate often lack the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the job market.
The degradation of Bengal’s educational system extends beyond this single incident. Apart from a handful of private schools affiliated with boards like ICSE, CBSE, and ISC, and a select few prestigious universities, the overall state of education in Bengal is in dire straits.
West-bengal's education system is totally destroyed by mamata's government and her party. pic.twitter.com/aHP5AGfpuB
— JHUNU CHOWDHURY (@jhunuchowdhury3) September 19, 2023
The decline is glaring in vernacular medium schools, where students grapple with fundamental arithmetic and linguistic challenges. The natural and social sciences appear to be beyond their grasp, and English, often considered essential for academic and professional success, remains an enigma.
This alarming state of affairs should serve as a wake-up call for the entire nation. While some corrupt education officials have been brought to justice, this recent notification is a clear indicator that the crisis in Bengal’s education system is far from over.
The path to reviving Bengal’s once-mighty education system remains uncertain. It is a matter of grave concern that urgently requires attention and comprehensive reform. The decline of education in Bengal is a matter that deserves national attention, as it reflects the larger challenges facing the education sector in India.
The decision by the West Bengal government to shut down 8,207 primary and secondary schools, constituting almost 10% of government-controlled schools, due to their dwindling student populations, has sparked a heated debate on the principles of universal education: access, attendance, and achievement. This move, driven by concerns of financial sustainability and the necessity to optimize educational resources, underscores the critical need to ensure equitable access to quality education for all students.
There are 253 other government-aided schools in West Bengal with 0 students. In a state where 84% of the children goes to government schools, this raises pressing questions about the state of education and the factors driving this phenomenon.https://t.co/JYfFsqMzKY pic.twitter.com/eJxJcHH8jr
— Aparna (@chhuti_is) September 12, 2023
There has been a consistent decline in the number of students appearing for Class 10 board examinations. In 2023, only about 6.99 lakh candidates appeared for the Class 10 Madhyamik examination, marking a 36% drop compared to 10.98 lakh in 2022 and 11.18 lakh in 2021. West Bengal’s education budget for 2023-24 is Rs 27,862 crore. This is an increase of 8.6% over the revised estimate of 2022-23. Here is a comparison of West Bengal’s education budget with some other states:
State Education budget for 2023-24 (Rs crore)
- West Bengal Rs 27,862 crore
- Tamil Nadu Rs 35,000 crore
- Karnataka Rs 34,000 crore
- Maharashtra Rs 40,000 crore
As one can see, West Bengal’s education budget is lower than that of some other states, such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. However, it is important to note that the state’s budget for education has increased significantly in recent years.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to this decline, including:
Lack of investment in education: The state government has allocated a very small portion of its budget to education, and this has led to a shortage of resources for schools and colleges.
Corruption: Widespread corruption in the state’s educational system has led to a deterioration in the quality of education.
Political interference: Teachers and administrators are often appointed on the basis of political connections rather than merit.
Poor infrastructure: Many schools and colleges in West Bengal lack basic infrastructure facilities such as classrooms, libraries, and laboratories.
Lack of qualified teachers: There is a shortage of qualified teachers in West Bengal, and many teachers are underpaid and overworked.
The decline in education in West Bengal is having a serious impact on the state’s students. Many students are dropping out of school, and those who do graduate often lack the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the job market.
The state government needs to take urgent steps to improve the educational system. This includes increasing investment in education, rooting out corruption, and appointing teachers and administrators on the basis of merit. The government also needs to improve the infrastructure of schools and colleges and hire more qualified teachers.
Many may wonder about the root causes behind the ongoing educational crisis in West Bengal. As elaborated earlier, a significant contributing factor can be attributed to the state’s Education Minister, Bratya Basu. In recent years, Basu has found himself entangled in numerous controversies, diverting his attention away from the critical realm of education. One such controversy pertained to the appointment of interim vice-chancellors in state universities, where Basu contested their selection, alleging political motivations and disruptions within the universities.
Another contentious episode linked to Basu revolved around the tragic demise of a Jadavpur University student, Anis Khan, in 2022. While the police initially ruled it a suicide, Basu and other student leaders insisted on foul play, resulting in an ongoing investigation. Criticism has also been directed at Basu’s management of the education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, with allegations of insufficient support for students and educators.