PATNA, March 13, 2008: Educational experts from states like Delhi, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and West Bengal have converged in Patna for a two-day seminar organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Government of Bihar’s Department of Education and the Bihar Education Project, to share best educational practices in primary education across India.
The seminar has brought together people who have successfully changed the way children learn in classrooms across the country. It is the first of a series of initiatives to develop a Bihar-specific action plan to ensure quality education for all children which will further improve enrolment, retention and completion rates as well as learning levels in the state.
Anjini Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary, Human Resource Department, Government of Bihar, said: “With political will and improved efficiency in governance, the educational indicators in access, enrolment, and retention and gender equity have shown discernible improvement in Bihar. Impressions gathered from this experience-sharing initiative will help us sharpen our quality education initiatives.”
Speaking at the inauguration, Bijaya Rajbhandari, State Representative, UNICEF Office of Bihar, said: “UNICEF is committed to collaborate closely with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Bihar Education Project Council, the SCERT, the Department of Human Resource Development, and others, to develop a Bihar-specific teaching and learning strategy. This seminar is a welcome first step in that direction.”
In Bihar, the number of out-of-school children has decreased from 44 lakh in 2003 to 15 lakh in 2007 and the total enrolment in government schools at the end of last year stood at 1.6 crore, up from 99 lakh in 2004 (Source: SSA AWP, 2007-08). Learning levels, however, continue to be a major challenge in the state.
The government has initiated well thought-out projects and programmes to address basic issues, including providing access to textbooks and uniforms, enabling girl children to reach schools by providing bicycles, curriculum revision and teacher enrolment and training, however, a lot remains to be done to make education effective and relevant to the lives of all children.
Bihar, like many other parts of India, has been facing tremendous challenges in its efforts to bring education to all children and especially to each and every girl child. It is hoped that the experience sharing at this seminar will help the education fraternity in Bihar to come up with a comprehensive action plan to effectively address these challenges.
The challenges are not unique to Bihar or to India alone. Ever since the World Conference on Education for All (EFA), held in 1990 at Jomtien in which India and 154 other countries committed to the universalisation of primary education by 2000, the world community has emphasised the need to focus on ensuring provision of relevant and high quality education for all children and especially to children belonging to the most marginalized communities.
For more information, please contact Priyanka Khanna, UNICEF Communication Officer, at +91 9835052996.