| Education minister PK Shahi (seated left) with the school toppers. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
A cramped venue and a not-so-punctual minister disappointed several Class X and XII students at a felicitation ceremony on Thursday.
The Private Schools and Children Welfare Association, an organisation of private schools, organised a felicitation ceremony for school toppers from the state. Around 300 students spread across the three boards — CBSE, ICSE and Bihar School Examination Board — turned up at the venue, the hall of Bihar Industries Association (BIA). Not only did the chief guest, education minister P.K. Shahi, reach hour-and-a-half late, most of the meritorious students stood through the hour-long programme.
The hall fell short of the number of students invited for the felicitation, Pratibha Samman Samaroh. The minister also drew the ire of the students with his late appearance. Most of them felt Shahi should give more importance to time.
Shahi said: “I was not late. I was told that the event was to start at 3pm.” While the students were at the venue since 2pm, the minister reached around 3.15. The education department principal secretary, Amarjeet Sinha, came for the event around 2.30pm but left in 10 minutes because of prior engagement.
Simran Anand, a Class X student of St Joseph’s Convent High School, passed her CBSE Class X exam with a 10 cumulative grade point average (CGPA). She said: “If he (Shahi) is not punctual what will he teach us? Students who came to the felicitation faced a lot of problems because of the space crunch. The organisers should have thought about how they would accommodate 300 students and their parents at such a small venue. While I got a seat, most of my friends had to stand during the whole programme. They did not find one empty chair.” Sources said even if the 300 students turned up at the felicitation without their parents or guardian, the BIA hall would have fallen short because the capacity of the hall is 250.
Many parents also expressed their displeasure. “First I did not get a chair to sit and second, I had to wait for a long time, as Shahiji did not come on time. This programme turned out to be a troublesome experience,” said Shanti Mishra, one of the parents present at the felicitation.
Praising the organisers of the felicitation ceremony, Shahi said: “Such kind of programmes boost the confidence level of students.”
He also said many private schools are following the Right to Education (RTE) Act and have enrolled students from economically weaker section in their institute. “Many schools have enrolled economically weak students but many are yet to follow the RTE norms. As the act is new, it will take time for proper implementation,” Shahi said.
Once Shahi reached the venue, members of All India Students’ Federation (AISF) entered the hall and created a ruckus for over 15 minutes, further delaying the programme. The AISF members demanded effective implementation of RTE in private schools of Bihar.