According to a recent report by The Indian Express, the government schools in Bihar have taken the extraordinary step of removing over 20 lakh students from their rolls due to prolonged absences. This significant move has affected more than 70,000 schools across the state, encompassing students from classes 1 to 12. Notably, this action has caused concern among various stakeholders, including education officials and teacher organizations, who hold divergent perspectives on its implications for the education system.
Bihar Secondary Education Director Kanhaiya Prasad Srivastava, as mentioned in The Indian Express, directed officials to ensure that students in classes 10 and 12, whose names had been struck off, do not participate in the upcoming state board examinations. This directive underscores the severity of the situation and its potential impact on the affected students’ educational trajectories.
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Furthermore, a senior official from the education department, speaking on the condition of anonymity, conveyed the underlying rationale behind this decision. They emphasized the necessity of maintaining a school environment with only dedicated and committed students, highlighting the importance of allocating government resources and scholarships to deserving and engaged learners. The official stressed the need for ensuring that the benefits, including the government’s lunch scheme, are accessed solely by genuinely enrolled students who regularly attend classes.
“Some children also study in private schools while keeping their names in government school rolls,” the official said. “We want only serious students in schools so that we can focus on them. All government benefits and scholarships should go to only genuine students. Only regular students should avail themselves of the government’s lunch scheme, too.”
The move faces strong backlash
However, this step has not gone without criticism. Amit Vikram, the President of the Bihar Teacher Eligibility Test Association, expressed deep reservations about the government’s move. Vikram was quoted in The Indian Express, expressing concern over the potential violation of the provisions outlined in the Right to Education Act, which mandates the universalization of education. He emphasized that removing a student’s name from school rolls should only occur if the student is enrolled in another school and has been absent for an extended duration. Vikram further underscored the association’s intention to challenge what they perceive as an “arbitrary” decision before the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, signaling a potential escalation of the issue within the educational policy landscape.
This incident has raised crucial questions about the broader educational landscape in Bihar and the challenges faced by students and their families in accessing quality education. It underscores the need for a comprehensive approach that balances the efficient utilization of resources with the fundamental right to education for all children, regardless of their circumstances or backgrounds. As the situation continues to unfold, stakeholders and policymakers must work collaboratively to address the root causes of absenteeism and ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a meaningful education.