Education
 India
Project #2526

From grinding poverty to graduation

by People First Educational Charitable Trust
Vetted
Rajiv (name changed)
Rajiv (name changed)

Hi Everyone,

Greetings to all from Bihar!

Time for another report.

Dear me, friends and supporters, how the education system here in Bihar has been exposed as totally corrupt starting with the interview by a television channel of the top student in the state examination who acquired top marks in Political Science out of millions of students. When interviewed, she told the astonished reporters that Political Science was mainly concerned with cooking, which she pronounced as “Prodigal Science”. The government’s response (admittedly not their only response) was to arrest the girl concerned.

This is from First Post newspaper,

What will it take for our politicians to wake up to the crisis destroying the school education system? Not even recent revelations of the shockingly poor learning outcomes of Class XII toppers in Bihar have jolted the political class out of nonchalance. The latest disclosures from Bihar have sparked outrage among citizens and despair among students, who were feted one day and trashed the next, in full media glare. Butt of public ridicule, the students are however, victims of the system, not its architects

The 10+2 toppers scandal has ruined the careers of thousands of students in Bihar. The merit scam is the by-product of greed and a capricious political intervention in education, which paved the way for touts to flourish inside Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) system, varsity offices and other academic institutes. 

Wielding huge political clout, top education department officials distributed affiliation certificates to institutes for anything between Rs 1.5 and 6 lakh. Former BSEB chief Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh had given affiliation to over 200 such institutes in his two-year tenure, which is being investigated now. Kingpin of the scam and principal of VR College Amit Kumar alias Bachcha Rai managed to get affiliation for its 12 colleges, mostly fake, investigating officers say.

Former BSEB chief’s wife and former JD-U legislator Usha Sinha was principal of Ganga Devi College in the state capital. “Sinha would demand Rs 15 lakh for producing a state topper, while his wife took Rs 10 lakh for passing the failed candidates,” the preliminary investigation revealed.

The expose

It was a chance media discovery. The student who was declared arts topper in Bihar intermediate examination on May 20, talked of ‘Prodigal Science’ when reporters reached her for an interview. She explained the subject as something to do with cookery. “I don’t know how I am declared the topper. V R College principal Amit Kumar (Bachcha Rai) is very close to my father. I wanted to pass the exams with at least a second division,” she reportedly told the state’s Special Investigating Team.

The Board conducted a re-exam of 13 toppers on June 3. The student skipped the exam on health grounds. In the re-test, the expert’s committee cancelled the top positions of state science topper Saurabh Shreshtha and third state science topper Rahul Kumar after they failed.

So how do we work in such a system, why should I donate if the system is so broken?

It boils down to this, please read this from one of our sponsored students in higher education,

“Look in the end the responsibility for my learning rests with me. There are so many good teachers and genuine students and you can acquire the knowledge you need. What is the point of paying for an exam pass if you have no knowledge? It will become useless as soon as you get a job and don’t have the skills to do that job, let the cheaters fool themselves in an unreal world, we know the real world. We know poverty and we know how education and knowledge can lift you and your whole family and generations to come out of the black hole of ignorance, out of poverty and lead you to a better life.”

Finally lets here from Rajiv an ex sponsored student,

I got a People First Scholarship to study at college. Our family is very poor and no one was educated beyond class six. I graduated three years ago, and I now work managing the mid-day meal scheme in local schools. I cannot tell how the world of my family has completely changed due to this, not just financially.

My sister has a daughter and she is going to school every day, this would not have happened before.

Education can change things for whole families. For so much the better.

Poor families like mine who are fighting their way out of poverty with the help of the education I received

Thank you all for your support for this programme,

Rajiv (name changed) 

If you are thinking of giving another donation, please make it on giving Tuesday 29th November as Global Giving has a record amount of matching funds which will make your donation go much further and help us feed many more children.

Please kindly make a note of it and, once again thank you,

Naresh Sir

Links:

Pramod
Pramod

Hello Everybody,

Time for another update.

I would first like to share with you an open letter written to the Chief Minister of Bihar by a concerned professor, and published in the Times of India.

I know you are all so busy but if you could take the time to read it the article shows the need for our scholarship programme. We wish things were better and students in Bihar got more care, we can only hope for improvements in the education sector in the years ahead.

Here is the letter,

Dear Nitish Kumar Ji,

I am a proud Bihari and really feel privileged to be so. But it personally hurts when I find the state in which Bihar finds itself today. When you first took over the reins, your statesmanship had raised the expectations of every Bihari. People had looked for real change, particularly in your second stint.


But a lot of things have since gone wrong in the state under your watch. For now, I would like to focus on Bihar’s crumbling education system.

There has been a steady slide in the education system of Bihar, once home to world’s ancient universities like Nalanda, so much so that the state has become a laughing stock.


While studying at Havard University last year, I felt disgraced when The New York Times carried a picture of people clinging on to the windows of an examination centre in Bihar to help the candidates. Had the system been delivering quality education, students and their relatives would not have resorted to such shameful means.


After that picture of ignominy, I had expected your government to act and take education reforms seriously. But that was not to be. Instead, the ‘topper scam’ came to light this year.
Recently, I visited Katihar, my hometown which I love more than any place on earth. My curiosity to find the state of government schools and colleges took me to Maheshwari Academy, which used to be one of the best schools in the district during my childhood.


The visit made me more despondent. Surrounded by tall grass and bushes, it appeared like a haunted building. The campus has completely lost its charm. Suddenly, I saw a marble stone on the science block, which pointed out that you had inaugurated it in 2007. But it looked more like an abandoned building.


Interestingly, bang opposite this block is the office of the district education officer. I wondered whether the DEO’s gaze had ever fallen on the building. What I gathered about the school later was more shocking. There are only ten teachers for about eleven hundred secondary school-level students and no regular teachers for higher secondary classes. There have been no new appointments in last two years and students pay to bring in retired teachers who prepare them for the Board exams.


Bihar still lags behind in pupil-to-teacher ratio (PTR) with 1 teacher for every 51 students against the national average of 26. Moreover, in government schools, most teachers are under-qualified with only 44% having a professional degree. Compare this with the national average of 80%. No wonder, only half of the students manage to clear the Class X board examination.


Sir, you are the one who showed light to thousands of girls by providing them bicycles to attend school, a move that reduced the dropout rate. But over a third of the schools still lack toilets for girls. How do you expect girls to spend long hours in school without such basic facilities? Mere increase in number of students is not enough. It’s the quality of learning that lies at the core of an education system.

Over two lakh classrooms need to be built to provide space for students. Cramped, poorly ventilated classes cannot enhance the experience of learning. If your government could build record stretches of roads and improve supply of electricity during the first two terms, what prevents you from changing the face of education in the state? It’s so ironical. I used to study with kerosene lanterns because of poor power supply but schools were comparatively better and now students enjoy better power supply but quality of schools have deteriorated.

How do you think Bihar can bridge the rich-poor divide with government schools in such deplorable state? How can change happen when bright students leave the state? Education has to be a much bigger agenda for governance and needs much deeper involvement.

I would urge you to make education your first priority if your government is serious about harnessing the potential of Biharis. A better education system integrated with life skills is the crying need of the hour.
Sir, involve parents in the school committees and encourage parent-teacher engagement. Public schools are beyond the means of majority of our young boys and girls who have tremendous potential. They too have a dream. Please help them realise it for themselves and the state.

And now something from one of our sponsored students, Pramod.

Namaste,

"My name is Pramod (name changed). I want to thank you all so much for helping students like me achieve my dreams. I am now studying for my competitive examinations for Banking which if I am successful give me a career I could only dream of before People First sponsored my college education. I came up through the village schools run by People First .  

Mt family are poor farmers I am the first in my whole family to receive a full education, let alone go to college.

Education can change the world, thank you for changing mine beyond my dreams”.

Pramod

Links:

New school stuff!
New school stuff!

Hello everyone,

Greetings from a hot and dry Bihar, it’s time for an update!

This update is translated from Hindi and is written by one of the girls we have provided an education and a home in Rescue Junction.  Pritya (name changed) sister is doing very well in higher education under this scheme so we welcome your support for her and girls like her, and once she qualifies we will include her story also in a future report.

Your donation really changes lives and may I remind you that you on June 15th your donation will be matched by a 50% bonus from Global Giving. So please kindly make a note of that day.

Here is what Pritya wrote for you,

“I was very small when my father died. I can’t remember very much but I remember helping my big sister scoop out earth to bury my father. I can remember being hungry, so very hungry. I remember some police with us, and I remember coming to rescue junction and enjoying a good meal.

That was many years ago, now I am older and I have so much to be thankful for.  I came here with my sisters (one younger and one older) my big sister did so much to look after us, and as we have no family who can take care of us Rescue Junction staff told us not to worry they would take care of us as long as we needed help and support.

And they kept their promise to us providing education care and love for all these years. My older sister is now away at college under a scholarship for higher education paid for by People First, her qualifications will mean good future for her and all of us, thank you so much for helping us.”

With thanks to you all,

Naresh

Links:

Pupils from Dhobi school with exam pass papers
Pupils from Dhobi school with exam pass papers

Hello everyone,

As always thank you for your support and interest in our work. This update will take a different form than any other update we have done in the past, and I hope the wonderful people at Global Giving will approve it as an update as it takes the form of a film.

It is the story of two students from Dhobi school, our biggest school with 300 pupils and their battle against the odds to gain an education.

It was not a film made by us but by NDTV a national news channel who wanted to highlight excellent educational work going on all over the country. Our film ten minutes long is the first and if you can find ten minutes of your busy day we can think of no better way to show you the power of individual spirt in the story of these two individuals.

It also demonstrates how your donations are used for the benefit of children and young people to help them turn hope into achievement.

The link is here

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ioam8oqoi6m51sh/PEOPLE%20FIRST%20VIDEO%20ON%20NDTV.mp4?dl=0

but you can also find it below

With heartfelt appreciation,

All of us at People First

Links:

Pradeep in his village
Pradeep in his village

Hello everyone!

Greetings from Bihar!

For this project update I asked the principal of Dhobi School , our biggest school providing free education for the poor to highlight one particular story( one of many) to illustrate the sucess of the TOP programme.

 Here is the story of  Pradeep  ( we have changed the name according for protection of privacy )

Age – 15 Years

Pradeep  is from the Mahadalit Community from Mushar caste . He has two brothers and one sister. This village is almost 98 % population from Mushhar ( rat eater) caste. His father is labourer and mother also works as a labourer in the field.

As he told- and true also – he is first  person  in that village who is from his Mushar community to pass the Matrick exam this year because of only Dobhi School. As he told earlier people discriminate against him because of his community but after his matric pass( school leaving examinations) the situation about Subhash has gained a new found respect.

Now he can understand what is going on in the society “After my situation changed many family and parents from my village in my community has started to come to my father and asked about their children to send school or they are agree to send their children in the school and this never happened before”.  

So it can be clearly said after he passed his exam Pradeep became role model in his village in his community and people are already motivated to send their children to the school  after seeing Subhash success and it all happened because of Dobhi School  and the support from the the opportunity of the student sponsorship programme from People First ,supported by Global Giving  Without this programme they don’t have option .

Pradeep is enrolled in college this year.

Thank you for helping to change lives for the better. 

People First- working together with the poor for a better future

Naresh Sir

Links:

 

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Organization Information

People First Educational Charitable Trust

Location: Bodhgaya, Bihar - India
Website: http:/​/​www.peoplefirstbihar.org
Project Leader:
Nick Hansen
Project Liason Officer
Dhobi Gaya Rd Bodhgaya, Bihar India

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