|BN College in Patna. Telegraph picture
For a state famed for its ancient centre of learning at Nalanda, the figures are shameful. Just 10 lakh youth, aged between 18 to 23 years, are enrolled for higher education.
The state’s gross enrolment ratio (GER) is just 11 per cent — that means only 11 out of every 100 youth are pursuing university education — quite low when compared with figure from other states.
The youth are enrolled at any of the 260 constituent (like Patna College, Patna Science College, Magadh Mahila College) and equal number of affiliated colleges in 11 universities of the state.
Sources said the reason behind this low GER is, primarily, lack of necessary infrastructure and shortage of teachers at the universities because of which students are being forced to move to other states in pursuit of higher education.
N.K. Choudhary, a senior teacher at Patna University (PU), said: “The reasons behind low GER is poverty, lack of awareness among people to pursue higher education and insufficient number of colleges in the state.”
The GER in other states is much better (see chart). The national figure is 18.8 per cent.
The PU teacher pointed out that in the last eight years the Nitish Kumar government had failed to open sufficient number of colleges in the state. And the colleges that exist are functioning without enough faculty and infrastructure facilities.
Altogether 13,484 teacher posts are sanctioned in the 11 universities but over 6,000 posts are lying vacant.
Since 2003, no major appointment of teachers was carried out in the state’s universities while the number of students in the universities has gone up.
Educationists confirmed that so far as access to higher education is concerned, Bihar is way behind other states in providing higher education to youths.
As many as 25 out of 38 districts in Bihar are educationally backward, they said.
To meet the challenge, the state education department had in November last year prepared a list of 24 colleges that would be developed as model colleges for others to emulate.
These model colleges were to come up in the districts that had been identified as educationally backward.
The state government scheme to increase the number of universities, too, has not materialised so far.
The recent government move to convert 50 selected colleges into centres of excellence is moving at a snail’s pace. However, special secretary, education, H.R. Srinivasa was hopeful of positive changes on the horizon.
He said: “The state government has created Mission Manav Vikash for equality, accessibility and quality in education field.”
The special secretary said appointment of teachers in universities would be completed by next academic session through Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC).
He reiterated the government has prepared a list of 24 colleges which would be developed as centres of excellence under the Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). Also, there is a plan to set up nine degree colleges at the sub-division level, he said.