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Bihar becomes first state to put school information online

Bihar is the first state in India to put information about students, teachers and educational status online as part of an effort to improve education

Bihar has become the first state in the country to put details of Classes 1 to 8 of all its 70,000 government schools online. Only recently, a survey of primary education showed that the state, considered one of the most poorly developed in the country, had only 3% of its children out of primary school. Efforts by the state government seem to be paying off in the education sector.  

Details on students, teachers, education status, phone numbers, development grants, conditions at school, required number of classrooms, etc, can be found on the nationwide database created by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (www.schoolreportcards.in).  

The District Information System for Education (DISE) project covers primary and upper primary schools in all districts across India and is supported by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Unicef. So far, information on 1.3 million schools across India has been put up on the net.

The Bihar government has asked schools principals, block education officers and district superintendents of education to furnish data quickly and ensure it is accurate. Five per cent of schools were rechecked by an independent agency to ensure the data was correct.

The school report card (SRC), as it is called, gives valuable information about the overall education status by applying 46 education parameters. It tracks the attendance and results of caste and religious groups, and also watches out for gender parity. In the context of the Right to Education Act implemented last year, information such as pupil-student ratio, student-classroom ratio and required number of teachers is extremely helpful.

Bihar has also experimented with improving access to teaching materials. In 2008, the government launched a Rs 30 crore campaign for schools to buy textbooks over a two-month period.

Enrolment in primary schools in the state has improved dramatically, according to a report by the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), Pratichi (West Bengal) and Centre for Economic Policies and Public Finance released earlier this month.

While 25 lakh children between the ages of six and 14 were found to be out of school in 2005-06, the number is down to a quarter -- 5.9 lakh. More schools have been opened -- there are now 114.3 schools for every 1 lakh people in the state, against just 60 three years ago.

The dramatic improvement is said to be due to political pressure, which just shows how much things can improve if state governments sincerely push for social sector development. Work on the database programme was rigorously pursued over five years and in the case of books and teaching aids, acquisition was done in a speedy two months.

Since 2004, India’s education budget has more than doubled, increasing from Rs 152,947 crore in 2004-05 to Rs 372,813 crore in 2009-10. But the results have not shown significant improvements, according to the most recent Annual Survey of Education Report. If the Right to Education Act is to give the required push to education in the country, the Bihar government’s moves must be replicated.

Source: The Indian Express, February 8, 2011, February 2, 2011, January 31, 2011 

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