CAG report exposes Bihar Government’s false claims on educational reforms

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Bihar school education in pathetic state.
Deflating the tall claims made by erstwhile Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on improved standards of education in the state, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has revealed the truth about education department's blatant exaggerations over implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

CAG findings tabled in the State Assembly on Tuesday brought into light the poor condition of education during Nitish Kumar's eight-year rule. The report has also revealed the dearth of infrastructure, staff and uniforms and stationary for the students.

Exaggerated figures:

The report for 2012-13 tabled in Bihar assembly said 'test-check' of records of four district programme officers (DPOs) revealed that enrolment figure was more than the population of children in the age group of 6-14 years.

As per the CAG report figures provided by DPOs of Sitamarhi, Khagaria, Kishanganj and Gaya, 23.03 lakh children were enrolled in schools in the districts but the population of children in the four districts was 22.18 lakh revealing that the enrollment figure was inflated by around 85,000 in these districts.

Government inflated enrollment figure of students by around 85000, says CAG

According to data provided by Bihar education department, enrolment of children in schools in the state stood at 2.09 crore at the end of March 2013. This was 96 per cent of the total 2.18 crore children population here in the age group of six to 14 years. Such whopping figures are enough to raise suspicions that these numbers are misguiding and far away from reality.

Accountant General (AG) (Audit) for Bihar, PK Singh said the enrolment figures were inflated as compared to actual enrolment and did not present the correct status of enrolment in the test checked districts. Test checks in Kishanganj, Nawada, Rohtas and Saran districts found that against the admission of 3,691 children altogether 5,104 children were shown as enrolled in the attendance register.

According to the report, despite the SSA's declared goal to achieve universal elementary education, as many as 1,896 habitations had no school. The 206 new primary schools opened in the six districts failed to become functional in the absence of teachers.

State body's bizarre defence:

In a bizarre defence to hide its inability, Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC), which comes under the education department, told the auditors that the inflated figures were due to non-furnishing of data by many private schools.

When asked, state Education Minister Brishin Patel told sources, "The discrepancy in figures is because overage and underage children study in many schools and the CAG report has not considered their numbers. It mentions figures related only to children who are in the age group of 6-14 years. Besides, the CAG report has considered draft census data for comparison, as the final figures are yet to come. So it is not the final picture."

Poor infrastructure:

Highlighting the grim condition of infrastructure in the state, the report said 13 per cent of schools were still running without buildings. Some of these schools still function from beneath the tree. Despite availability of funds only 56 per cent of new buildings and 60 per cent of classrooms could be completed, the report pointed.

Revealing the former CM's carelessness towards the problems of the girl students the report claimed that 45 per cent school for girls lack basic amenities like toilets. Of the evaluated 996 schools, 559 institutions had toilet facilities. Similarly, 178 schools had no provisions of drinking water.

Uniforms for students:

Despite availability of funds, distribution of free uniforms during 2010-12 could not be done. Funds were either lying unspent with the Government agencies or had been distributed in cash in violation of the SSA norms.

Unavailability of staff:

The state has a dismal pupil-teacher ratio and teacher less institutions despite acute requirement of staff. The State Government could not fill the 43 per cent of teaching posts even as the pupil-teacher ratio dipped from 53:1 in 2008-09 to 59:1 in 2012-13.

Speaking on the report, State's Accountant General PK Singh said that SSA's implementation in Bihar was messed up due to which the State could not get the benefit of Central assistance for improving state of education.

Poor implementation of mid-day meal scheme:

Bihar has always failed at implementation of Centre-sponsored mid-day meal scheme. Reports of kids dying or getting ill after eating unhygienic mid-day meal in the schools were endemic during Nitish's time and are still prevalent. The memory of death of 23 students in state's Chhapra district last year after consuming poisonous food is still fresh.

Nitish Kumar paid the price:

The two most important tools for development of any state are education and health care but subsequent governments in Bihar neglected both these areas since independence. Hoping to give him a chance to provide clean and effective governance, voters brought Nitish Kumar to power in 2005 Assembly polls. But he failed to deliver and eventually paid the price by suffering a major rout in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. Nitish took the blame for his party's humiliating loss in the polls and stepped down from CM's post. This shows that the voters have lost their faith in him and the new CM should take lessons from it and start thinking about winning public faith to come back to power in next year's Assembly polls.

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