Bihar is struggling with low attendance in rural schools and colleges.

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Although enrollment in rural schools in Bihar has climbed, the administration is now concerned about a sharp decline in attendance, particularly in the Magadh district, authorities said on Wednesday. In addition, they noted that decreased student attendance is a concern in rural Bihar’s government-run colleges. Although there are more students per teacher in certain rural schools, a department of education reported that attendance ranges from five to ten percent. Senior department employees recently performed surprise checks, and they discovered that “classrooms in the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th standards were almost empty at some government schools in rural areas,” he claimed.

On condition of anonymity, the official added, “Our team members got astonished to see that less than 10% of kids were present in Class 9 and 11, while the attendance was less than 5% in 10th and 12th grades.” On August 26, they paid unexpected visits to schools in the outlying areas of Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, and Arwal. “Officials are reviewing the information from their visits. In order to find a strategy to get kids to school, we are also talking to parents and principals, the official said.

The number of schools in Bihar is 42,573, including 25,587 upper elementary, 2,286 secondary, and 2,217 senior secondary. Bihar Education Minister Chandra Shekhar responded to a question about the department’s results by saying, “I am aware of it. This situation will undoubtedly alter soon. Under the direction of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, our government has given education high importance. He added that “please don’t compel me to take strict steps to ameliorate the issue,” saying that “teachers and parents would have to find a solution to this problem.”

Another official stated that participation in rural institutions is also a cause for concern and that a similar exercise is anticipated to be conducted in the near future in the districts of Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj, and Vaishali. The insider stated, “The department recently sent a letter to vice-chancellors of all universities in the state, requesting them to implement a biometric attendance system for students starting in January 2023.” According to him, the government is also implementing a number of steps to increase students’ attendance at schools and institutions. “The state budget’s maximum allocation has been given to education. In total, Rs 51,000 crore have been set aside for it in the current fiscal year, according to the minister.

Approximately 36.5% of pupils enrolled in Standard I are unable to complete their secondary education, according to the Bihar Economic Survey (2021–2022). Even fewer pupils, according to the report, complete their higher secondary education. “High student enrollment rates are of little consequence if dropout rates are similarly high. Bihar has an issue with the phenomenon of significant dropouts before achieving the necessary education level. “Economic, social and cultural, and school environment and infrastructure are three broad categories that can be used to group all the elements that contribute to such dropouts. All of these variables are present in Bihar to varying degrees, according to the poll.

Mayank Tewari

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