PATNA: Bihar is on the right track to become empowered all spheres of development under the NDA government headed by a visionary like Nitish Kumar, said state education minister Dr Ashok Kumar Chaudhary.
Chaudhary, who holds the additional charges of the ministry of social welfare, building construction, science and technology and minority affairs, is one of the well educated and closest allies of CM Nitish. In an interview with TNIE, he claimed that education is among the top priorities of the government. Excerpts:
What is Bihar's plans for education amidst the push to become a developed state?
Education for the present state government is not a mere ministerial responsibility but an empowerment mission. Therefore, we are spending 20% of the state's total budget on education -- which is higher than normal spending on the field. Besides this, the state government is working to fill the vacancies from primary schools onwards.
If we speak about school education, the state government has revamped the entire infrastructure. Almost all facilities are being made available for promoting education and encourage children from all marginalised sections of society to attend classes. The books, uniforms and cycle schemes are important parts of an initiative to make Bihar excel in education.
The most remarkable thing is that the education of girls has have got adequate momentum with the implementation of cycle and poshak (uniform) schemes. Simply put, Bihar is excelling in educational empowerment. One day, the state will have not only the highest literacy rate but also the most educational institutions.
With the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, education was hit from school to university levels. What measures are being taken to bring things back under control?
Bihar government under the leadership of CM Nitish Kumar have brought the covid-19 under control and have resumed classes ensuring proper adherence to safety protocols. After the senior classes in schools, now classes for the students of Class 6 to 8 are starting from February 8. Classes in colleges and universities are happening with 50% attendance and examinations are being conducted. The officials of education department led by principal secretary of education Sanjay Kumar, are working round the clock to take education way ahead. And we will resume the full-fledged working of the educational sector in the next few months.
It is learnt that the school dropout rate among children has increased in the wake of Covid 19 pandemic. How are you going to deal with it?
Yes, more than 20 lakh cases of school dropout have been estimated till date amid the corona crisis. The education department will soon launch a drive to bring all those children back to schools.
We had started online classes during the peak times of pandemic for school children in addition to classes conducted through programmes on Doordarshan and radio. In order to enhance speaking skills in English as well other languages, we have started educational schemes in association with the Kaushal Vikas mission. We are committed to exploring talents through proper educations. Let me tell you that vacancies to 2,451 posts in polytechnic institutes and engineering colleges are also being filled in order to promote science and technology-based education.
What all have your government been doing for women empowerment and environment protection?
For boosting women empowerment in education, the state government has doubled the financial assistance to unmarried girls on passing intermediate from Rs 25,000 and Rs 50000 for both married and unmarried girls on completing graduation. The daughters of Bihar will be able to step up their higher education plans and ensure their participation in the progress of the state.
Bihar has got the highest number of women cops in the country and it shows how our government is concerned with the "Nari Shakti" in every sphere. According to the India Justice Report 2020,one in 4 cops in Bihar is a woman- which is the highest across all states.
As far as, works for environmental protection are concerned, the Jal-Jivan Hariyali started by CM Nitish Kumar is globally acclaimed now and has started redressing out many problems including safe drinking water along with enhancing greenery. The water bodies have been renovated to save water besides setting a record of having planted crores of trees.
Any plans to upgrade the state's e-education?
Yes, we have started an initiative to strengthen the "E-education" under the pilot project through the "StepApp Tab" in two girls schools in Patna. Our government is striving to strengthen education through technical means. Besides this, the department of education and the 'Centre for Health Policy" have signed also MoU to provide support in health and gender-related activities, strengthening financial accountability for need-based research.
We are also working to develop the language skills and numerical knowledge of the children.