Bihar leads in student and teacher absenteeism in state government schools. Less than 40 per cent students and 75 per cent teachers attend classes on any given day, says a Human Resource Development ministry survey.
But more surprisingly, educationally sound Delhi scores just 51 per cent student attendance and ranks lower than educationally backward states like Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh. While teacher absenteeism is not too high - just 5 per cent - their accountability in ensuring student attendance is very low, the survey states.
Student attendance at the primary level in Bihar was 42 per cent, while in the upper-primary classes it just 37 per cent. Teacher attendance for these two categories was 76 and 75 per cent respectively.
An HRD ministry official blamed a "shortage of about 80,00 teachers in Bihar" for the state of affairs. Bihar has also been unable to meet many Sarva Siksha Abhiyan targets citing financial crunch.
The survey in 21 states has enough pointers on why Bimaru states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Orissa are lagging behind in education. Student attendance in Rajasthan is 63 per cent, in Uttar Pradesh 57 per cent, Chattisgarh 66 per cent and Orissa 67 per cent.
The survey throws up significant questions about the efficacy of centrally-sponsored schemes like the midday meal scheme, for which money is sanctioned to states on the basis of students enrolled and not actual attendance. The ministry expects a final report in two months with detailed analyses of the findings.