Pupil enrollment in rural schools in Bihar has increased but a sharp drop in attendance, particularly in Magadh division, has become worrying for the administration, officials said on Wednesday. Moreover, declining student attendance is also an issue in public colleges in rural Bihar, they said. Despite a better student-teacher ratio in several rural schools, school attendance ranges from 5 to 10 percent, an education department official said.
In recent spot checks by senior officers in the department, it was found that “standard 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade classrooms were nearly empty in several rural public schools”, he said. . “Members of our team were surprised to find that less than ten percent of students were in attendance in grades 9 and 11, while attendance was less than five percent in grades 10 and 12, said the official under covered with anonymity.
They made surprise visits to schools in rural areas of Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad, Jehanabad and Arwal on August 26. “The officials are analyzing the results of their visits. We are also interacting with principals and parents to find a way to bring children to school,” the official said.
Bihar has 42,573 primary schools, 25,587 upper primary schools, 2,286 secondary schools and 2,217 upper secondary schools. Asked about the department’s findings, Bihar Education Minister Chandra Shekhar told PTI that I am aware of them. I’m sure that scenario will soon change. Our government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has given highest priority to education.
Teachers and guardians should find a solution to this problem, he said, adding that please don’t force me to take strict measures to improve the situation. A similar exercise is expected to be conducted soon in Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj and Vaishali districts, another official said, adding that the turnout in rural colleges is also a matter of concern. “The department recently sent a letter to the vice chancellors of all universities in the state, asking them to introduce a biometric attendance system for students starting in January 2023, the official said.
It is also taking several steps to improve student attendance in schools and colleges, he said. Education received the maximum allocation from the state budget. A total of Rs 51,000 crore has been earmarked for it in the current financial year, the minister said.
According to the Bihar Economic Survey (2021-22), about 36.5% of students enrolled in Standard I are unable to complete secondary school. The proportion of students who complete upper secondary school is even lower, he added.
A high student enrollment rate doesn’t matter much if dropout rates are also high. The phenomenon of high school dropout before reaching the desired level of education is a problem in Bihar. “All of the factors behind this dropout can be broadly divided into three categories – economic, social and cultural, and school environment and infrastructure. In the case of Bihar, all of these factors operate to varying degrees, according to the survey.
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