| Mithapur Farm Primary School. Picture by Jai Prakash |
British poet and civil servant Thomas Babington Macaulay prescribed a system of education for Indians in his infamous Minute on Indian Education (1835) that would make them interpreters between the colonial masters and subjects.
According to D.M. Diwakar, director, AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna, the education in government schools of Bihar has not progressed too far from the 19th century system. “The state government should re-orient the education system with an attractive curriculum and joyful learning environment,” he said.
Such is the paradox that ails the primary education system in Bihar. Hundreds of primary schools have opened in the state in the past seven years but lakhs of children are still languishing in the darkness of illiteracy. The government and the stakeholders are well aware of the ironic situation, which is harming both students and the teachers. But little seems to be done to address the problems. Education minister Prashant Kumar Shahi has often reiterated the necessity of providing quality education. Reports of government and non-government agencies have frequently illustrated the bleak tableau of the quality of education in government schools.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report, 2011, 50.5 per cent of Class V students are unable to read texts prescribed for Class II students. Also, only 36.9 per cent Class V students can solve division problems, which are usually taught in Class III.