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After midday meal linked to Aadhaar, 13L fewer class 1-8 students in Bihar schools

Officials said inaccurate enrolment data, including multiple enrolment earlier, which was exposed once Aadhaar linkage started, was mainly responsible for the sharp drop in the number of students.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2017 18:39 IST
Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Aadhar linkage,Midday meals,Bihar schools
(PTI representative image)

PATNA The number of class 1-8 students in government and government-aided schools of Bihar has come down by 13 lakh, following the Bihar authorities’ move to link the Aadhaar biometric authentication system with the mid-day meal scheme, as part of the centre’s decision to link all welfare schemes with Aadhaar card to check leakages.

Official sources said the number of students shown to have been attending class 1 to 8 of government and government-aided schools has dropped from 2.17 crore earlier to 2.04 crore now, though the Aadhaar linkage process was yet to be completed.

In the case of government schools only, the number of students showing up has dropped from 2.04 crore to 1.99 crore. Officials saidinaccurate enrolment data, including multiple enrolment earlier, which was exposed once Aadhaar linkage started, was mainly responsible for the sharp drop in the number of students.

At present, Aadhaar registration of nearly 80% school students has been done, but the percentage of those who have got their Aadhaar card is still low at around 50%, said state project director Sanjay Singh.

Bihar is, however, not the only state witnessing a fall in the number of students ever since the process for Aadhaar authentication started. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur have also deleted names and more states are likely to come up with their figures.

Confirming the drop, Singh said the number had dropped due to entry of all details concerning students, not just their name or roll number or name, to check duplicity.

“The format is such that a student is now required to furnish 35 different details for enrolment, including Aadhaar number. Only 18% students had Aadhaar cards ready in September 2016, but it has gone up significantly since then. We hope to cover all students soon,” he added.

Singh said Aadhaar card was also mandatory for private schools, but that would be taken up in the second phase after completing the exercise for the government and government-aided schools. “With genuineness ensured and multiple enrolments removed, the number will certainly drop, but that is good for planning purpose in the longer run,” he added.

The midday meal scheme is a nation-wide food programme to help improve attendance in schools while providing adequate nutrition to potentially malnourished students. The earlier deadline for linking students’ Aadhaar numbers with MDM was June 31, but it was later extended to August 31 and now to December 31.

The drop would save the government a lot of money on MDM, as also other welfare schemes, viz. financial incentives for dress and cycle and scholarships, by preventing leakages. However, it has increased the load on teachers, who have to move around to convince parents about the need for Aadhaar, as many are reluctant, and then link it with bank accounts.

On the other hand, it also points to multiple enrolments, as had surfaced during 2011-12 following the launch of health guarantee scheme mandating issuance of health cards to all students. Annual status of education report (ASER) of NGO Pratham had also pointed to enrollment-attendance mismatch in government schools.

It had led to ‘clean register drive’ and prompted several checks and balances, including mandatory criteria of 75% attendance for availing various financial incentives. However, the then principal secretary of education, Amarjeet Sinha had said that there might be up to 15-20% students enrolled in both government and private schools due to mushroom growth of unregistered institutions in the remotest corners of the state.

No. of students Type

(class 1-8)

2.17-cr Govt & govt-aided

14-lakh Private

Post Aadhat authentication

2.04-crore Govt & govt-aided

Addhar coverage of school students

Got cards: 55%

Registered: 82%

New deadline: Dec 31

First Published: Sep 13, 2017 18:30 IST