The recent exposure of a Bihar topper scam exposes the murky underbelly of the state of education in Bihar.
Before we go forth, there is one more, the latest addition to the list of scams; the Intermediate result scam in Bihar. It’s reported that the Ex-chairman of BSEB, Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh was allegedly involved in malpractice regarding granting affiliation to around 23 colleges.
Earlier this month in the fallout of the topper scam, in a widely publicized TV interview, a Humanities topper in Bihar Intermediate examination Ruby Rai pronounced Political Science as “Prodikal Science” which according to her deals with cooking, and struggled to answer basic questions.
This led to a furor and all hell breaking loose as the scam surfaced. Investigations revealed that the girl’s father had approached the principal of her college for help in getting his daughter through the exams.
According to a report, the arts topper Ruby Rai’s father gave this statement “Maine toh bas principal sahab se apni beti ka thoda khayal rakhne ko bola tha, unhone toh top hi kara diya”… “I had just asked the principal to look after my daughter, and he made her a topper”.
Facing an expert committee of the Bihar State Education Board that asked her to write a few lines on Tulsidas the poet, she had written one line: “Tulsidas, pranam”.
The topper in Humanities is not the lone case it seems. The toppers of the science and arts stream are from the same college, Vishun Roy College, Hajipur. The principal of the college is Baccha Rai, and he supposedly has political connections. Baccha Rai is himself not even a graduate and he is the principal of a college. 2 years back, his daughter who was studying in the same college topped in the 10th board exams.
The college has had many such cases in the past. Last year, almost all the students of the college got the same marks, and results were canceled by the board.
Consequently, one after another a score of people were arrested after investigations revealed evidence of their involvement in the scandal, including the students, principal of the college, and key persons in the education ministry.
Investigations also revealed that huge sums of money were exchanged for getting a false “pass” in exams. It’s not just that a degree or exam results have turned into a commodity that can be bought and sold. The whole state of Bihar’s education is in a shambles.
The Bihar education system is afflicted with all sorts of maladies. The list of its ills is seemingly endless: lack of commitment on the part of students, parents and teachers alike; unqualified and incompetent teachers; nepotism, corruption, politics, lethargy, indiscipline, rowdyism, lack of infrastructures and proper facilities, and rampant corruption.
A sting operation had exposed the sorry state of knowledge of a primary school teacher in a small government school in the State.
Another sting operation by a TV channel exposed how exams are conducted in Bihar. It showed teachers actually helping students cheat by providing notes, books, guides during the Board examinations.
In the 2011 Intermediate exam is was said that there was no checking at all. There was open copying, using mobile phones for the correct answers to the 20 MARK MCQ , that the Bihar board had just introduced.
So who then is to be blamed for the abysmal state of education in the state? The general state of corruption in the country, and especially so in Bihar, has seeped like a poison into almost everything.
The bad quality of of Bihar board education can be attributed to teachers who are themselves uneducated or poorly qualified for teaching. There are many institutions in Bihar where people can get a fake degree or can get themselves qualified for teaching, price being the only concern.
Schools don’t have the facilities or equipment to impart good knowledge. Student to teacher ratio is around 50-80:1. The average salary of a teacher in Bihar is Rs 4000-5000. So one can hardly expect good quality teaching services in the State.
There are many promotional education schemes by government but the sad truth is that students go to school for the freebies like uniform, lunch, books, cycle etc. rather than for the education itself.
It seems that this sorry state of affairs in Bihar can only improve with a change in the way things are governed. Otherwise things will continue like this giving us false “toppers” and degrees and education in the real sense going down the drain.
Where there is a will there is a way. It is certainly the responsibility of the state education machinery to check such bad practices in the Bihar State board. It can take the help of District Administration to maintain strong rooms for question papers and answer scripts; to provide police personnel for vigilance, and magistrates to book anyone caught indulging in copying.
In early 90s, Bihar’s current home minister Rajnath singh was the Education Minister of Uttar Pradesh. His govt had enacted a legislation that made cheating a non-bailable offence.
Much of the contents of the original act have since then been heavily diluted by the respective govts and cheating has again become a bailable offence.
Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar has promised strict action against all those involved in the scam. This should send a stern warning to all the miscreants who make a joke out of something as serious as education.