Schools are Not a Place to Learn in Bihar

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The government of Nitish Kumar is soon about to decide the budget for the upcoming Financial Year 2018-2019. This decision will determine whether Nitish Kumar will leave behind a legacy for the future generation or fail it.

Bihar’s governmental schools are an insult to independent India and an insult to the state of Bihar, a state that has historically been on the forefront of educational and cultural development. This time is over.

The governmental schools in Kurhani Block, Muzaffarpur District are in a disgraceful condition. While the Center talks about Digital Classrooms, here are neither toilets nor electricity nor furniture. The buildings are dilapidated and the books have been delayed for more than half a year. One thing is sure: Learning is not happening in these derelicts.

Certainly, for learning to happen, there must also be motivated and trained teachers. But the environment matters. No successful private company would expect its employees to perform well in buildings without furniture, essential tools such as textbooks and a toilet. The Education Department of Bihar does.

School condition in Bihar.School condition in Bihar.The result of this neglect are children who do not learn. Children who are in class V, but cannot calculate 17+14 or read a simple sentence in their mother tongue. Time will not solve this issue.
The ASER reports show that the learning levels are further deteriorating. Privatization of a fundamental right will also not solve the issue. Nobody would seriously suggest to privatize courts or the police force. Neither should schools be privatized. Schools are meant as a place to learn and play, for children of different social backgrounds to come together and to grow up to become one nation that is led by the ideal of humbleness and empathy. Money should have no place here.

But the reality is different. Schools are not a place to learn. Schools are not a place to play. Schools have for long ceased to be a place where children from diverse backgrounds to come together. Private schools serve the middle and upper class. The rest remains in the run-down rural schools of Bihar that violate the norms and standards that the Right to Education Act demands.

Nitish Kumar will now have the chance to come up with a budget that can fundamentally change this scenery. Or he can let it go by and fail another generation of the children of Bihar.

Dr. Vishwa Anand
(Project Manager, Education Unit, ADITHI, Bihar Education Unit
Pragati Nagar, Majhauliya, Muzaffarpur 843146

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