Skip to main content

Registers show 43% of enrolled Bihar children attend schools, survey says it's 21%

By Bharat Dogra* 

The urgency of improving school education, particularly in the government-run schools of more remote rural areas, has persisted for a long time. Following the prolonged closure of schools during the pandemic, this urgency has increased all the more as the learning of students was adversely affected during the time of school closure.
A recent survey conducted early this year in 81 primary and upper primary schools of Araria and Katihar districts (Bihar) on behalf of the Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan has further highlighted this urgency. This survey was conducted under the guidance of Prof. Jean Dreze and Ashish Ranjan by Paran Amitava, Kanika Sharma, Tanmay Nivedita and students of JJSS and National Law School.
According to the results of this survey, attendance was being routinely inflated by the teachers but even in this inflated form this amounted to only about 43 per cent of the enrolled children. However, at the time when this survey was conducted the actual number of children present in the school was only about 21 per cent of the total number of enrolled students.
Clearly this is a shockingly low percentage and that too at a time of the year – around February – when the attendance should have been much better compared to more difficult times like the rainy season. This means that many children are being denied regular school education at a very early stage (primary and upper primary). This low level of attendance was found to exist despite the much publicized schemes of mid-day meals, free text books and uniforms. Hence a very honest appraisal should be taken to find out the causes of low attendance.
This is unfortunately the situation in post-pandemic times when the need for more regular attendance is much higher than in normal times. As this survey points out from its own findings, almost half of the schools reported that most of the students in classes from three to five had forgotten to read and write when they returned to school following the recent prolonged pandemic related school closure.
This survey has also found that for all practical purposes, almost 90 per cent of the 81 schools that were surveyed did not have proper boundary walls, libraries and playgrounds. In fact, 9 per cent of the schools did not have any proper building either.
About 20 per cent of the schools had less than adequate funds for mid-day meals. In fact this writer’s own inquiries reveal that this may be quite widespread even in some of the economically better-off states as several cases of long delays in receiving resource support for mid-day meals have been reported. The condition of mid-day meal cooks has been found to be pathetic in many places: they are underpaid badly and even their low wages are often delayed.
Some of the other publicized schemes also appear to be at a much lower level of achievement than is commonly believed, at least in these surveyed schools. Not many students were in their uniform. It appeared that the direct benefit transfer funds for uniforms and text books either did not reach several parents, or were diverted for other uses by some of them.
This survey has also found the number of teachers to be lower than desirable norms in many schools. Several requirements of the right to education law are missing in most schools.
This survey also found that there is a strong prevailing trend of government schools being replaced by private schools or coaching centers, even in these rather remote areas. However, such a trend will make the educational prospects of the children from the poorest households even more difficult, particularly if this leads to closure of nearest government schools due to low enrollment.
The results of this survey should be considered a wake-up call regarding the need for urgent steps to improve school education, particularly in the more far flung and remote areas. There is a widespread belief that at least at primary and upper primary level almost universal coverage is being achieved and the remaining problems are more regarding the higher schools.
But this survey reveals that even now in 2023 the situation can still be quite dismal even at the primary level. If the opportunities for learning are so inadequate at such lower levels of schools, it follows that opportunity of survival in the more demanding higher levels will be reduced.
Clearly there is need for increasing the availability of financial resources for education at primary and upper primary levels, but in addition there is need also for improving the implementation of several existing schemes. Closer community involvement in improvement of school education can also be helpful.
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include ‘Man over Machine’, ‘When the Two Streams Met’ and ‘Protecting Earth for Children’



What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.