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Low student turnout irks HRD minister

State HRD minister Geetashree Oraon on Friday pulled up district education officers for a poor turnout of students at the state-level science exhibition (2013-14) in Ranchi.

After inaugurating the event at Amar Shaheed Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo Zilla School in the morning, the minister said these exhibitions were important to inculcate scientific and creative temperament in students. “Such programmes allow students to think beyond conventions and contribute to the overall development of science,” said Oraon, expressing her dismay at the low participation by students.

Only 113 students of classes VI-X from seven districts — Garhwa, Latehar, West Singhbhum, Jamtara, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh and Chatra — took part in the exhibition. Sources said last year, over 200 students from all the 24 districts had participated.

Oraon said the department would direct the DEOs of the remaining districts to approach all government schools and start the registration process for a second round of exhibition to be held later this year.

Expressing her disappointment, HRD secretary Aradhana Patnaik asked what about the students of other districts? “I am really surprised. Why did not the DEOs make any effort to convince school principals to send their students (to the exhibition). I have decided to show-cause the DEOs,” she said while addressing the principals and students of the participating schools.

Patnaik added that even students of private schools did not participate this year.

“All these schools will now have to send their models for the second round of exhibition to be held after three months. The DEOs must visit schools in their districts and direct principals to submit lists of participants. If need be, the officials may take out advertisement within a month,” the secretary said.

Every year under the Inspire Award Scheme, the secondary education department organises the state-level science exhibition that allows students to showcase their skills and innovations in science, environment, water conservation, mathematics, lac research, solar energy etc. Only those, who qualify at the district-level competitions, can participate in the state-level exhibition. The state winners ultimately vie for glory at a national-level exhibition.