Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can allow himself a smile.
The state has improved the most across India in reducing the number of children out of school over a period that coincides with his tenure at the helm of Bihar, according to the Annual Status of Education of Report released by NGO Pratham today.
The findings appear to vindicate the CM’s efforts at improving primary education – using innovative policies such as offering free bicycles to girls – in a state that has traditionally been a basket case for a failed education system.
Nationally, fraction of out-of-school girls between 11 and 14 dropped from 6.8% (2009) to 5.9% (2010).
In Bihar, fraction of out-of-school girls dropped from 17. 6% (2006) to 4.8% (2010), and of out-of-school boys from 12.3% (2006) to 4.4% (2010).
The national picture in terms of girls going to school has improved. The fraction of girls between the age of 11 and 14 who are out of school has dipped from 6.8% in 2009 to 5.9% in 2010.
But the report earmarks Bihar’s improvement in enrollment of both boys and girls as the standout performance among states since 2006, Kumar’s first full year as CM in this stint.
The proportion of boys out of school – across classes – dropped from 12.3% in 2006 to 4.4% in 2010, while the corresponding fraction for girls fell even more steeply from 17.6% in 2006 to 4.8% in 2010.
Bihar today keeps more students between 6 and 14 – covered under the Right to Education Act – in school than West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Assam and even Gujarat, a state often cited as a benchmark in development.
The fraction of out-of-school students between 6 and 14 in Bihar is 3.5%, identical to the national figure, as opposed to Gujarat (4%), Bengal (4.6%), UP (5.2%), Jharkhand (3.8%), Rajasthan (5.8%), Orissa (4.5%), Meghalaya (7.2%) and Assam (5%).