The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 21 , 2017

Balm for education department

Workers carry out Bihar Divas preparations at Gandhi Maidan on Monday. Minister Ashok Choudhary announced the education department's achievement while inspecting the Bihar Divas preparations. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Bihar's much-criticised education department has won the Skoch Smart Education Award in assessment by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).

The Skoch Smart Education Award is part of the Skoch Smart Governance Award, an initiative recognising top-performing government and private organisations in the area of health, education, rural development and others. The Skoch Group is a Gurgaon-based think tank dealing with socio-economic issues with a focus on inclusive growth since 1997. The group companies include a consulting wing, a media wing and a charitable foundation.

The department has won gold for academic assessment of students from classes I to VIII though ASER has pointed out the poor quality of education prevailing in government schools. The assessment was done at three levels - monthly, half-yearly and yearly examinations. The education department in September last year introduced the system and students were asked to appear in the monthly and half-yearly exams.

Jitendra Srivasatva, the secretary of the education department, said: "Skoch has awarded the process and the system under which students were assessed. Even in the assessment test, no students were failed, but it revealed the academic standard of students studying in government schools."

Inspecting the Bihar Divas preparations at Gandhi Maidan, education minister Ashok Choudhary told The Telegraph: "It is a great achievement as the department's initiative of conducting academic assessment of students has been acknowledged by Skoch."

With the introduction of the No-Detention Policy of the Union government (where students are promoted in higher grade every year), the department was looking for a system under which academic assessment of students in government schools could be assessed.

Based on the findings, the education department will take steps to provide quality education to students.

Earlier, the 2016 ASER issued by NGO Pratham had stated that the quality of primary education in government schools had deteriorated in comparison to 2015.

The report indicated that only 42 per cent of students in Class V could at least read at education material of Class II level. It also pointed out that subject-wise, students' performance in mathematics was dipping over time in Bihar.

In 2016, till Class VIII, around 40 per cent children were struggling in soving division (one of the four basic operations of arithmetic) problems.

Choudhary said: "This year, the theme of the Bihar Divas will be de-addiction. The department had played a key role in the world record human chain event."

On January 21, Bihar claimed to have created a world record as lakhs of people came together in support of prohibition, forming a human chain which stretched for than 11,000km across 38 districts.

The education department had planned to felicitate the best district for the show, but now the award will be shared among all districts.

This year, Bihar Divas 2017 will centre around the state's connect with Mahatma Gandhi in the centenary year of Champaran Satyagraha and de-addiction. Stalls of various departments highlighting their achievements will be on display.

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