Fate of healthcare legislation in US

Author: 
Arun Srivastava

He had taken over the reign of the chief minister with the promise to usher the state and its people into a new bright future, take them out of the morass of backwardness and empower them. But after 13 years of his government, which incidentally was acclaimed and applauded as the example of good governance, it is an irony that the state has failed to achieve any major success in providing a new direction to education, a major component of the human development index.           
The admission of failure has come from none else but the chief minister himself. What he said at the Bihar Skill Development Mission on Sunday to mark the World Youth Skills Day was virtually his self-indictment.  Ever since he ascended to power and entered into the cozy office of the chief minister in 2005, Nitish has been consistently harping on reaching education to the door steps of the poor and downtrodden. For him education is the best instrument to fight poverty and empower them, especially poor women. But after 13 years of his performance as the chief executive of Bihar, he has come to realise the bitter truth that he has failed to live up to his promises and give concrete shape and character to his vision  
Addressing participants at the Youth Skills Day, Nitish lamented that Bihar has a Gross Enrolment Ratio of just 13 per cent in the field of higher education. It means around 87 per cent of those who pass Class XII board exams stop studying further, or in other words, drop out from the education system. However, he did not lose hope and asserted that it was time to overturn this trend. Significantly, he reiterated that the state government was taking steps towards this goal. Obviously it is imperative because neither the nation nor the state will progress without the development of the youth.
No doubt Nitish initiated the process of curbing the issue of drop-outs. But all his efforts proved futile. In 2011 it was revealed that more than 1,50,000 bogus and false names were enrolled at the primary levels in government schools. By the time the government could act, the scamsters had defrauded the state exchequer of crores of rupees meant for the purchase of dress, books, cycle and other requirements. In fact, in 2013 Nitish had asked his ministers and district magistrates to move around in the districts and ensure that all eligible boys and girls are enrolled in schools. But there were no takers for his instruction.    
In fact, six months ago, his new comrade in arms, the BJP leaders, had leveled serious allegations that the OBC and dalit students were not getting the scholarships and the 'student credit card scheme' was non-functional. Nevertheless, Nitish claimed that the state government was providing Rs 1,000 per month as self-help allowance for two years to youth in the age group of 20 to 25 years so that they could visit different places and search for employment.
The plight of the education sector also got manifested in at least three schools running from the same two-room campus. Two class rooms of Balak Madhya Vidyalaya, located in the heart of Patna on Beer Chand Patel Marg, are used by Kanya Madhya Vidyalaya and Madhya Vidyalaya Mithapur. The Madhya Vidyalaya Mithapur was shifted here after its building was demolished for construction of the Buddha Smriti Park in 2007. Around 1,000 students study in the three schools that run on shifts, with neither enough classrooms nor toilets. They have no other alternative but to run classes on the veranda. There is only one urinal for girls but it is used both by students and teachers. The academic session started in April, but the schools have not received textbooks even after four months.
BN College, a constituent college of Patna University established in 1889, is facing acute shortage of teachers, with many departments running without any or just one or two faculty members. While the physics department has no teacher, the sections of history, political science, Hindi, Urdu, zoology, botany and statistics are running with just one teacher each. Dearth of well-qualified lecturers and professors is a major problem that haunts the colleges and universities. To meet the teachers' crunch the university usually hires some visiting faculty members or students of senior classes at a fee of Rs 250 per class. The college has a sanctioned strength of 102 teachers, but is running with just 32.
Higher education is languishing in Bihar. All the universities in the state are facing an acute shortage of teachers and lack of infrastructure facilities. For example, there are just 27 physics teachers in the 197 government high schools in Patna district. There are around 41,000 teachers at 5,200 government high schools. Out of these, 34,200 are working on contract while the rest are regular teachers appointed by the government. Teachers' proficiency test has not been held for five years. Unfortunately the government has no parameters to judge the quality of teachers. Academics allege that the government is not interested in filling up teachers' posts at state universities as they want to promote private universities The Bihar Public Service Commission has to recruit 3,364 assistant professors at nine state universities, but till date only around 750 candidates have received their joining letters.
The nature and quality of education provided in a state define the character of that state and the educational institutions. The sorry state of education in Bihar was also a matter of concern for the former governor Ram Nath Kovind. Six months ago, while addressing the academics, he had cautioned that higher education in the state was on the verge of collapse.
The private coaching centres and institutes have been thriving at the cost of the government institutions. Though the deterioration in the higher education began during the regime of Lalu Prasad, it worsened further under the JD(U) rule of Nitish Kumar. (IPA)

Tuesday, 25 July, 2017