Patna: Shakuntla Sinha
knows where to cut corners to keep the house running with her
husband's Rs.15,000 salary. The couple maintain a strict, austere
lifestyle and rarely indulge, except when it comes to their kids'
education. A Rs.2,000 fund is exclusively kept for their private
In Bihar, there are millions of parents like Shankuntla and her
husband Sunil who are not satisfied with school education and
think of tuitions as a basic necessity.
A recent report by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)
2011-12 reveals that nearly 46.7 percent children in government
schools in Bihar take tuitions while 60.8 percent in private
schools take tuition -- the highest figures in the country.
In comparison, nationally 23.3 percent of students in government
schools and 21 percent in private schools take private tuition.
"Private tuition is the most important element outside school. It
provides the (children) support to solve problems related to
studies at school," Shakuntla, a housewife, told IANS.
Her two children -- a son and a daughter -- are studying in Class
7 and Class 8 in a private school here.
"We are forced to curtail other expenses to provide private
tuition to our children. My husband is just a clerk in the Bihar
government," Shakuntla said.
Then there's Guddan Khatoon who also prefers a private teacher
over the school where her children study.
"We feel tension-free with private tuitions because school
teachers do not give them full attention," she says.
Mukesh Singh, another parent, said there have been instances when
he has detected spelling errors and even wrong math problems
marked as correct by teachers. His daughter is a Class 10 student
in a government-run high school here.
The ASER report has made it clear that parents across the country
send their kids for private tuitions, but dependence on tuition is
much higher in Bihar.
According to the report, the trend of school children opting for
private tuitions indicate falling standards in school education
and a dip in the quality of teachers.
Last year, another report had said that the practice of private
tuition was fairly widespread in rural Bihar.
The 80-page report on "Elementary Education in Bihar: Progress and
Challenges", released by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, said one out
of every four boys and one out of every 10 girls in rural Bihar
take private tuitions.
According to data, there are over 20 million students in
government schools in Bihar.
There are 72,000 government-run primary and middle schools in the
state and 10,000 high schools. Also, there are about 25,000
private schools across the state.
Last year, a report revealed that 94.1 percent children in Bihar
study in government schools, 5.7 percent in private schools and
0.2 percent in unrecognised madrassas.
Another interesting finding of the report was that 6.6 percent of
primary school teachers and 10.4 percent teachers of upper primary
classes run private tuitions. Of them, 45.5 percent justified
private tuitions as a "desirable practice".
(Imran Khan can be contacted at email@example.com)