Nitish Kumar govt’s claim of quality education may ring hollow if Chief Secretary makes details public, as directed by court.

 

New Delhi: A judgment by the Patna High Court, in which the court has asked the state government to furnish details of how many children of IAS, IPS, Class-1 and Class-II officers of the state services are undergoing studies while being enrolled in government-run schools, is likely to blow the lid off the claims made by the state government regarding improving the quality of education in the state.

The submission of the said details, which was to be personally filed by the Chief Secretary of the state in front of the Patna High Court on 16 August, has been postponed due to the judge concerned not being available. Justice Anil Kumar Upadhyay, who was hearing a case filed by “guest teachers” whose services have been allegedly terminated in an “arbitrary manner”, has made stinging remarks on the quality of education in Bihar. He ordered for the personal affidavit of the Chief Secretary, seeking details of such wards of officers after the Chief Secretary, in his counter affidavit, made “very tall claims” and “highlighted the steps taken for improvement of quality education in the State of Bihar”. The judge, while refusing to accept the claims made by the Chief Secretary, stated that “the policies and schemes are only for glorifying the records”.

The guest teachers were engaged by the state government to augment the acute shortage of teachers in the state. According to Patna-based sources, as per the information collected by the Chief Secretary, the number of wards of officers studying in government schools across the state is “minimal”. The state government, sources said, is likely to seek more time to compile the information once the hearing resumes. This is being done, sources said, to “drag the case” as putting out the information in the public domain that the bureaucrats were not putting their wards in government schools, will negatively impact the image of the Nitish Kumar-led government which has been ruling the state with the help of BJP since for the last 15 years now. The judge, in his order, stated: “It appears that the education system in the State of Bihar has gone worse and no one is serious about the problem of the education system. It appears that the system is only spoiling the future generation as only formality of school education is done in this State. The system cannot be improved, so long the officials are allowed to educate their wards outside the State of Bihar.”

“The system can only be improved if all the officials of the State are compelled to keep their wards in the Government-run Educational Institutions; only then, the officials will see the upliftment of the standard of education. The poor people have no option but to send their wards to join Government-run Educational institutions. The Court is made to understand that in most of the cases, students undergoing study have to take the process of unlearning because the kind of instruction imparted is not a quality education. During the last few years, electronic media and newspapers have highlighted the kind of education imparted in the Government-run Educational Institutions in the State of Bihar, but all goes on deaf ear of those who are at the helm of affairs,” Justice Upadhyaya wrote in his interim order.

“The Court is of the view that the education system cannot be improved so long the education system is based on the concept of segregated system—one for the elite section and other for poor Biharis who have to remain content with Madhyahan Bhojan free book, uniform bicycle with poor teaching or no teaching,” he added.

“The Chief Secretary in his counter affidavit has made very tall claims and highlighted the steps taken for improvement of quality education in the State of Bihar, but those policies and schemes are only glorifying the records where these policy documents are maintained to understand the qualitative change and improvement. The Court is of the considered view that improvement in the system can be gauged by the faith of people towards the system. Let the Chief Secretary convene a Video Conference of District Magistrate of all the districts of State to solicit the information from the District Magistrate as to how many wards of the IAS and IPS and Class-I and class-II Officers in the State service are undergoing studies in the government-run elementary and other schools”.

“Thereafter, the Chief Secretary shall file affidavit, furnishing details of wards of the elite class as their wards’ admission in government-run schools will instill confidence of qualitative improvement so long the wards of elite class are taking education in non-government education system, the tall claim of qualitative change is only an eyewash. The golden test of quality change index is the public sector and not in the private-run institution and sending the wards of elite class outside the State of Bihar or private run education system is indicator of distrust in the government-run education system as even the IAS and IPS and other elite class are confident that the government-run schools are not up to the mark and as such, they are sending their wards to receive education out of the State or in private school on payment of huge admission and tuition fees.”

“Somebody in the system is required to take responsibility. In the peculiar facts and circumstances, the Chief Secretary of the State of Bihar is required to file a personal affidavit in the case to salvage the situation”, the judge stated.

Advocate Vipin Kumar, who is representing the suspended guest teachers, told The Sunday Guardian that the date of the next hearing in the case is yet to be decided. “The judge concerned is not available right now; once the bench reconvenes, then only we will get to know when the case will be heard next. The court, in its last hearing on 13 July, had asked the Chief Secretary to collect the relevant information and logically, the state should submit the same in the next hearing,” Kumar said. After the said order, the Additional Chief Secretary of the State Education Department, Sanjay Kumar, in a letter dated 23 July, had directed all the District Magistrates, Superintendents of Police (SPs) and district education officers to collect the information.

The Sunday Guardian reached out to Kumar for a response on the report, but none was received till the time the report went to press.