The Educational System in Nalanda: Part 1
Created by skshanu on Wed, 2012-01-25 15:34
Nalanda has been a name in itself for being one of the most famous global seats of learning in the ancient times. With the latest initiatives by the State Government, the establishment of New International Nalanda University under the mentorship of Prof. Amartya Sen is an attempt to reaffirm its long lost glory. The economy mostly being agricultural, the district is predominantly middle class with a special flare for education. Even small villages boast of doctors, engineers and administrative servants, unfortunately all of them settled out of state. But, this demands a deeper look into the actual educational scenario in the district.
The research has been conducted through interviews of different stakeholders in the field of education in the district's headquarters, BiharSharif. The sample schools for the interview were taken from all the four sections namely – Private Registered, Private Budget, Private Not Registered and Government Schools.
Bal Kalyan Vidya Kunj is a private unregistered school functioning in the narrow lanes of Bihar Sharif. Founded in 1968, it had its own story to tell through Mr. P. C. Raman, Director of the school who also happens to be The Secretary, Public Schools Association, Nalanda. Regarding the issue of school registration, the State Govenrment had issued a 40 page norm to all schools for compliance. Mr. Raman apprised of the fact that inspite the school’s requirement of selecting/attracting able and meritorious students, it had to suffer because of its unregistered status for not meeting all the norms. Delving deeper of the actual benefits of registration, he said that once registered; they will be at par with Government Schools and would be able to issue Transfer Certificates. Ability to issue Transfer Certificates seemed to be the prime motivation to get registered.
There seemed to be issues with the process of registration followed by the Government. Currently, the inspection team in Nalanda District had District Magistrate, District Educational Officer and another officer of Assistant District Magistrate Rank. The schools demanded one member on the committee to be represented by Public School Association. When asked whether the above demand was to serve private motives to facilitate their schools' registration, he said that having a representation in the inspection committee was asked just to facilitate better inspection and to apprise the district officials of the ground realities in a better way.
Regarding the RTE implementation, it was feared that it will be engulfed in corrupt practices. Although welcoming the motive to impart education to students from Economically Weaker Sections(EWS), its actual implementation was doubted considering the functioning of already operating government schemes where monetary help was being provided by the Government. A state level protest was organised in the state capital, Patna on 19th Nov, 2011 against the proposed registration of schools. He spoke that instead of checking the educational mafia and corrupt donation practices in big private schools, Government was more interested in the registration of small schools imparting education at nominal fees but not meeting all the specifications. He said that Nalanda is a unique district where the school fees are extremely low. The monthly school fees of Bal Kalyan Vidya Kunj started from a mere Rs. 110 for nursery and went to Rs. 250 for Class Xth. This fee structure was even less than the amount sanctioned by the Government and there were numerous such schools operating in the district having such low fees structures. Some of them were Nalanda Junior Academy, Vishwa Bharati, Jeevan Jyoti, Margdarshan School, Diligent Academy and Siddharth Public Academy. The existing conditions, that inspite of charging such a low fees and imparting quality education, Government instead of encouraging them was focussed on taking away their recognition. It was inhuman on part of the Govenrment to take action against the schools with a lower fee structure. Also he said that it was only the location factor among the lower strata of society which decided which school their children are going to.
When talking about the prospective integration issues of EWS students with already studying students, once RTE is implemented, he informed that already extra communication classes were taking place in his school and it had a marked effect with students showing civilized behaviour at-least inside the school premises. One more issue that he raised was about the employment of such teachers who had crossed their age limit but were still devoted to the profession. Government should not waste the existing resource especially in the abysmally low quality standards of the current government school teachers.
In short, the concern of corruption eating up the RTE's motive and the insensitive approach of Government towards devoted but infrastructurally incapable schools came out to be the prime concern from the discussion. The Government actions bear a more serious impact in case of Nalanda, since it has one of the highest population densities of 1006 per sq. km in the state. Any attempt to further downsize the educational resources needs a second thought.
Swapnil Kumar Shanu,
Jospeh P Overton Fellow