An Open Letter to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

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Dear Chief Minister

Sir, I have failed. But I am not among those 16 lakh students that failed this year. Rather I constitute a large part of the general public of Bihar which has failed along with its students. The government may not agree with me or my views, yet I expect the government to pay heed to my views as they are not just representing me but are a coalesce form of what the people of Bihar want to say.

It concerns with the legacy of rotting state of education system that we are going to pass on the future generations of Bihar. It concerns with the failing machinery of the government system in providing any substantive measure to undo this rotting and protect the future citizens from its consequences. I know that deep inside your heart even you acknowledge this reality. Then why shy away from conveying it to the people?

16.5 lakh students (8 lakh in 12th standard and 8.5 lakh in 10th) failed this year in Bihar Board examinations. The 38% pass rate in intermediate is the lowest rate in the entire country. On being asked about the reason for this, your party men say, "it's because of the strong anti-cheating norms being implemented". Does this mean that those who passed in previous exams did it only on the basis of cheating?

However, I don’t agree with their reasons whatsoever. First of all, the anti-cheating reason holds no weight. And I will tell you why. These anti-cheating norms are also followed in CBSE and in state education boards of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and other southern states, still the student pass with flying colours. You know why? Because those boards have a substantive education policy.

Now, let me tell you the real reasons behind this great failure.

1. With 37.3% less teachers than required, we obviously cannot provide quality education to students. So, no point expecting them to deliver good results.

2. Among those teachers who are available, 28% remain absent.

3. You employed 1.5 lakh para-teachers through "Shiksha-Mitra" scheme, the criteria for appointment was not merit based, but rather left to the conscience and consent of the Panchayat Mukhiya. If this is not considered a mockery of the education system then what else could it be? I mean, in a state where police constables and Chaprasis are appointed through written exams, how can you justify appointing teachers just on the consent of a Mukhiya, who might not be educated himself (not herself, because the real power lies with her husband. You know that too)

4. Now, coming to the last and most important fact. In intermediate, there are no classes held for students in school and colleges. You might frown at me for putting it so bluntly to you, but that’s a fact. Move out of Patna and you will see it yourself.

So, the basic problem you see is the non-availability of "quality teachers" and of the concept of "healthy classrooms". You can’t expect students facing such basic problems to compete with the students of other boards. But consider yourself lucky that not only some of these students compete on the same level, but also outshine the students of other boards. The credit for this only goes to their hard-work and dedication. It has nothing to do with your system of education.

There are two basic things that you need to explain, not only to me but to the entire people of Bihar.

1. What restrains you from appointing permanent teachers, who have necessary qualifications and could provide good quality teaching?

2. Why Bihar spends the least amount of money per student in the entire country?

In 2005, when you got elected as CM, overthrowing the rotting regime of Lalu Yadav, we started aspiring, we harboured hopes. We knew that you have inherited a corrupt and deteriorating education system. But we also hoped that in times to come you will respond for better. We hoped that you, with your goodwill intent, practical bent of mind and implicative ideas on education policy, the state of affairs in education would normalise, if not reach the status of pre '90s.

With a heavy heart, a frustrated mind and helpless hands, I wrote this letter. It was my attempt to remind you that you have not been able to do justice to the hopes and promises that you built.

Since hope is the only thing that common people could have, I still hope for a better tomorrow for the future students.

With regards

A member of student community

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