‘Bihar Still Lies At The Bottom In Terms Of Education’

PATNA: “Despite making progress in literacy, school and higher education in recent years, Bihar still lies at the bottom of education and economic development in the country because the majority of the population in the state are backward”, said Avinash Kumar Singh professor and head, department of educational policy, National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi.

Talking to TOI over phone from New Delhi, Professor Singh said: “The issue is not ‘inclusion’ of few groups of people, but the overall development of the society. The focus has been more on the peripheries, rather than centre of the development”.

Singh who has done research on higher education scenario in Bihar said that unfortunately, the faulty targeting of giving some share in education and employment in percentage terms, without having proper thinking on ‘relevant education’ has not helped the disadvantaged as a whole.

The fundamental question, according to Singh, is not ‘how we share?,’ but ‘what we share?’. Citing example, he said the foremost goal of formal education is to secure livelihood or job, especially at the higher levels of education. But the government employment data (NSSO, 2014, 68th Round) clearly indicates the inverse relationship between education and employment.

The rate of unemployment rises with the level of education. In other words, unemployment rate is the highest at the highest level of education. Moreover, the problems seem insurmountable with increasing unemployment among the educated disadvantaged including SCs, STs and minorities, he opined.

The socio-political problem affecting the state of Bihar in the form of Naxalism, is based largely on the problems of the unemployed educated youth. This clearly indicates that there is something wrong with the on-going education system as a whole in terms of policy design and practice, he told TOI.

“There is no point talking ‘equity’ and ‘quality’ separately, as exclusive emphasis on either of the two is dangerous and undesirable. Quality with equity is dangerous, equity without quality is a complete waste”, Singh said.

But the question arises, ‘how to go ahead in terms of policies and programmes when the majority are disadvantaged and marginalized?’ The answer lies more inside the system or group, than outside. There is need to un-package the identities of the SCs , STs, minorities and the OBC, he said.

“Lack of development is not merely an inter- group problem, but also an intra-group issue, whereby we not only have ‘dalits’, but also mahadalits, not only tribes, but also primitive tribes, not only OBC, but also EBC”, he said.

Singh also highlighted the nature and magnitude of growing unemployment among the educated. He pointed that how the university education system in Bihar dominated by general education, is not geared to address such problems, by highlighting the gap between educational aspirations and needs of the students and the type of education provided by the university.

Singh a former student of JNU News Delhi also illustrated how social science disciplines within the university system are getting marginalised, leading to further marginalization of the deprived and marginalised, as reflected in the dwindling number of students opting for social science subjects at the graduate and post-graduate levels.

“The unemployability of the social science graduates is linked to declining quality and standards of education in the university and colleges, Singh said.

He argued that the rising social problems are linked to the eroding social base of individuals reflected in the ineffective social science education in the country as a whole and Bihar in particular.

[The Times of India]



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