Bihar’s new education minister Chandrashekhar on Wednesday lauded the “Kejriwal model of schools” and said he would go and see if the same can be replicated in Bihar.
“People are praising the Arvind Kejriwal government’s education model in the national capital. We will send our officials to study the successful school education system in certain states, including Delhi,” Chandrashekhar told reporters after assuming office, reports PTI.
He said the education was the biggest mode of ushering in lasting changes in the society and move towards real progress and he would strive to bring about qualitative change in it.
“Those who have to teach hatred and communalism, they should do that; but we have to teach love and social justice. Those who have to teach Golwalkar’s ‘bunch of thoughts’, they may be happy doing so; but we have to teach Ambedkar,” he told reporters.
On teachers’ old demand for “equal pay for equal work”, the minister said his department would be happy go the extra mile provided their was commensurate output.
Chandrashekhar has taken over at a time when the education in the state is beset with several challenges, right from school education to beleaguered universities, which he admitted was “worrisome”.
Talking to media persons, he said the department had a huge budget of around ₹50,000 crore and it needed to be accounted for through perceptible changes. “If all the money is spent on infrastructure and establishment only and education remains a casualty, it serves no purpose. We need quality and regular education and the department will work in that direction to create awareness. It is the power of education that has made an education minister out of a teacher,” he said.
“”It takes time to cure the ills. Give me time. I will do that. The biggest problem is that classes don’t run in schools and colleges. It is strange that practical classes have vanished even in science subjects. In secondary schools, some classes do run, but it is abysmal in colleges and universities as well as primary schools. This has to be set right. I will appeal to the parents, teachers, teacher organisations and vice chancellors to ensure regular classes to reverse the horrific situation. If action has to be taken against teachers for not engaging classes, what will be the difference between them and others. This situation needs to be avoided,” the minister said.
Chandrashekhar also assured to fill the vacancies in schools. “I cannot give a definite timeframe straightaway, but it will be done soon. Chief minister Nitish Kumar has also announced 10 lakh jobs, in keeping with Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s promise. We have Simultata School model. The Kejriwal model of schools has also drawn a lot of appreciation and if required, that will also be studied and replicated to bring about qualitative change. I will also go to see it. If there are policy changes required, that will also be done,” he said.
The manifold challenges facing state’s education sector that require immediate attention require both finances as well as commitment, which the minister, being a teacher himself, hopes to get from the teaching community.
The school education in the state has two basic aspects. As far as incentives are concerned in the form of cycle scheme, monetary assistance for dress and books, financial stimulus to girls on passing class 10 & 12 or fee waiver in graduation and post-graduation, they seem to be popular, but they have not been able to make government institutions quality conscious or sought-after destinations for students. To make things worse is the acute shortage of teachers of different subjects in schools. Though schools were upgraded years ago and students are getting enrolled, teachers are still not there in required strength. Regular and timely salary payment have been a big issue in schools.
Another challenge is the recruitment of teachers. Teachers recruited in February under the sixth phase are yet to draw their regular salary, while thousands of candidates are awaiting seventh phase recruitment have their hopes pinned on the new education minister from the RJD. The education department had planned to start the process recruitment of 1.65 lakh teachers up to higher secondary level and now the focus would be on completing it before time. The department has already decided to work on a centralised system to avoid duplication and wastage of time and energy.
The problems in the state universities have been accumulating over the years to reach a stage when everything seems to be in a mess, nowhere near the goals set by the new education policy. The academic sessions in most universities are derailed, NAAC accreditation remains abysmal, no state institution figured in the top 100 of the National Institutional Framework Ranking (NIRF) under any category, teachers shortage and erratic classes have reduced them to mere certificate producing centres. There are three universities awaiting new vice chancellors.
Then there is rampant ad hocism on all the key positions in varsities. The post of principals in colleges has also been filled on an ad hoc basis, with the Bihar State University Service Commission yet to proceed for proper appointments. The appointment of assistant professors for the colleges has also remained slow due to a variety of reasons even as vacancies rise.