The Joy of Education!
Greetings- to all our supporters from Bihar, here in India.
I wanted to say in this report how much we welcome any progress in the field of education, and indeed there has been some here in Bihar and the government deserves credit. As an NGO we do not wish to justify our own existence and where significant improvements have been made in the villages regarding education we have discontinued our work because with our very limited resources we can only work in the areas of very real and greatest need. That said claims of close to 100% attendance by children to government schools are in our experience to be taken with a pinch of salt, or perhaps as the following article illustrates perhaps a truckload,
Patna, Feb. 11: The detection of fraudulent enrollments in government schools in Bihar appears to have put a brake on welfare schemes.
The much-flaunted bicycles, uniforms and mid-day meals seem to have disappeared from many schools. The number of students attending school has also slumped. “The actual number of fraudulent enrollment cases will be very small. There are a larger number of children who have taken admission but are not coming to school. They may be called dropouts,” said principal secretary, education, Anjani Kumar Singh.
The district education officers have been directed to check the attendance of students for at least six months before the cycles and uniforms are distributed. The attendance for mid-day meals monitored by the headquarters shows 55 per cent of the enrollment number. “We are hoping to increase the attendance to at least 70 per cent,” Singh added.
However, the impact of the “enrollment scam”, which the state government is trying to underplay, is being felt at the grassroots.
In Bhagalpur for example, Arun Kumar (name changed), who promised two friends he would get them bicycles from a government school, failed to keep his pledge after the education department sounded the alarm following detection of fake enrollments in the institution. The bicycle has now become a scarce commodity.
A native of Aliganj locality in the city and a former student of Jaglal High School, Bhagalpur, Arun (17) said he took admission in the Zilla School in 2008 in Class IX and obtained Rs 2,000 from the institution for purchasing a bicycle. “Some of my friends helped me as I had to spend Rs 250 for taking admission and preparing some fake documents,” he revealed.
Ravi, 20, (name changed), a friend of Arun, said his father “managed” two bicycles for his sister, Anita, one from the local Mokshada Girls’ High School and another from the Government Girls’ School, Bhagalpur, in 2009, after simultaneously enrolling her name in both institutions. In reality, Anita never attended either school. “My father sold the cycles and spent the money drinking,” Ravi disclosed.
Sources in the education department said more than 1,500 students, like Bhagalpur’s Arun, who became the beneficiaries of “Nitish Kumar’s free bicycle scheme”, have stopped coming to schools after getting the bicycles.
This startling fact came to light about a month ago when the local education department authorities scanned admission lists for classes IX and X on the basis of the transfer certificates issued by high schools in Bhagalpur. “At that time we had 500 such cases where by virtue of the fake transfer certificates, the students enrolled in schools just to become beneficiaries of the bicycle scheme,” an officer of the education department said.
Till now, 1,144 cases of fake enrolments have been scanned by the education department in 85 of 110 government high schools in Bhagalpur district. The newly established Zilla School (set up at Khirnighat in 2006 to counter the rush of students at the Zilla School in Bhagalpur) wears a deserted look. “The school has 39 rooms and 39 students. After instructions from the education department to verify the school transfer certificates properly for admission-seekers, the students have virtually stopped coming for taking admission,” said headmaster Hari Jha.
Of the 170 students enrolled in this school (2009-10), 141 were found to have submitted fake certificates.
Jai Chandra Srivastava, district education officer, Bhagalpur, who suspects that such fraudulent practices started from 2007 onwards, said the department has started scanning students who enrolled themselves from 2007 and dropped out after taking the bicycles.
The situation is the same in other districts. Khamzadpur Primary School, located in Minapur block of Muzaffarpur district, is in the news for the past three to four months. Villagers of Khamzadpur are up in arms against the teachers who, they alleged, played truant and denied mid-day meals to the students. “For the last three months, the students have not been served a single meal,” said villager Mohammad Mustafa Rahi, who alleged that the teachers regularly remained absent from school. The school has 155 students. However, after the mid-day meals stopped, less than a third of the students attend school.
Headmaster Harendra Ram admitted that mid-day meals were not being served to students because of non-availability of funds. “It is difficult to prepare meals for students in a sleepy hamlet,” Ram said, adding that he has written to the department concerned to allocate funds in view of the agitation of the villagers.
Fake admission, forged attendances and above all anomalies in plundering government benefits in a tacit understanding of teachers with villagers and officials of the education department, including members of Panchayati Raj Institution, go side by side in the district. This came to the fore when a high-level team of the human resource department headed by the district education officer, R.N. Sharma, stumbled upon the racket of fake admissions during a month-long investigation.
Muzaffarpur district magistrate Santosh Kumar Mall told The Telegraph that investigations were on to purge the schools of fake admissions and other anomalies. The district administration has so far detected 33,730 fake admissions in primary, middle and secondary schools.
The primary school at Billound Harijan tola under Arama panchayat of Wazirganj block, Gaya, around 30km from the district headquarters, is a glaring example of the irregularities in government-sponsored schemes like mid-day meals and the money being provided to the students for school uniforms. Till November 2011, 303 students were enrolled in the school, which at present has been reduced to only 152.
Names of as many as 151 students, almost 50 per cent of the earlier strength of enrollment, have been deleted from the attendance register. The teachers present at the school said the students have migrated elsewhere. The parents of these children have moved to other states to work in brick kilns, the teachers said. The names of students have been deleted from the attendance register following a direction by the authorities of the district education department
We have included this article in this progress report to illustrate that we will continue to help children receive an education they would otherwise not receive for as long as we are needed. As you know this appeal directly helps the most academically gifted youngsters from our village schools achieve the highest education possible, something which without your help is totally out of their reach and beyond their wildest dreams. We will return to personal inspiring stories in the students own words in our next update. In the meantime may we express our thanks for your support and please follow us on Face Book at www.facebook.com/pages/People-First-India/106083302779969
Thank you All,