Bihar struggles with low turnout in rural schools, colleges

PATNA: Student enrollment in Bihar’s rural schools has increased, but a sharp drop in attendance, especially in the Magadh division, has become a concern for the administration, officials said on Wednesday.
By the way, declining student attendance is also a problem in government-run colleges in rural Bihar, they said.
Despite better student-teacher ratios in several rural schools, class attendance ranges from five to 10 percent, an education department official said.
During unexpected checks recently carried out by senior officers of the department, it was found that “classrooms in the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th standard were almost empty in several government schools in rural areas,” he said.
“Our team members were surprised to find that less than ten percent of students attended grades 9 and 11, while attendance was less than five percent in 10th and 12th standards,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
They made the surprise visits to rural schools of Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad, Jehanabad and Arwal on August 26.
“Officials are analyzing the findings of their visits. We are also working with principals and parents to find a way to get children to school,” the official said.
Bihar has 42,573 primary, 25,587 upper primary, 2,286 secondary and 2,217 senior secondary schools.
When asked about the department’s findings, Bihar Education Minister Chandra Shekhar told PTI: “I am aware of it. I’m sure this scenario will change soon. Our government, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has given the 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 steps 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 turnout in rural colleges is also a concern.
“The department recently sent a letter to the vice chancellors of all universities in the state, requesting that a biometric attendance system be introduced for students from January 2023,” the official said.
It is also taking several measures to improve student attendance in schools and colleges, he said.
“Education is provided with the maximum allocation in the state budget. In total, 51,000 crore has been set aside for it in the current financial year,” the minister said.
According to the Bihar Economic Research (2021-22), about 36.5 percent of students enrolled in Standard I are unable to complete secondary education.
The proportion of students completing upper secondary education is even lower.
“A high influx of students does not mean much if the dropout rate is also high. The phenomenon of substantial dropout before the desired level of education is completed is a problem in Bihar.
“All the factors behind such outages 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 are operational to varying degrees,” the study said.

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