In view of unsatisfactory functioning of schools and the social disadvantages that many students suffer from, the practice of private tuition is fairly widespread in rural Bihar, says the 80-page report on "Elementary Education in Bihar: Progress and Challenges".
Nobel laureate Amartya K Sen released this report, which was jointly prepared by Pratichi India Trust and the Centre for Economic Policy and Public Finance, Bihar, here on Tuesday.
Nearly one out of every four boy students and one out of 10 girl students in rural Bihar receive private tuition. No less than 58.1% teachers mentioned it as a desirable phenomenon, says the report. The survey did not ask these teachers the reason for their view, but it is likely that they were quite aware about the inadequacy of learning inputs given to students at their schools.
It was found that only 6.6% primary school teachers and 10.4% upper primary school teachers engaged in private tuition. The ratio is indeed low, compared to the proportion of students receiving private tuition.
The report also found that since many elementary school teachers have a secondary occupation to pursue, they do not find private tuition a profitable activity. This also leads to the conclusion that a large number of private teachers in rural Bihar are probably moderately educated unemployed youth.
It also says that in recent years, although there has been a substantial increase in the number of schools, there has not been a commensurate increase in the number of administrative functionaries. This is likely to hamper proper supervision of the functioning of schools.
"Nearly half the parents have pointed towards the lack of seriousness of teachers, with the remaining ones mentioning either poor attendance or poor teaching ability. It thus appears that parents are more critical of the role of teachers than infrastructural deficiencies," the report says.
According to the findings, the overall quality of learning is still poor. The transition of students to higher classes is also very low - only 40 and 65% for primary and upper primary schools, respectively. About 10% primary schools and 18% upper primary schools were not visited by any official during the year prior to the survey.
The study was conducted in five districts of Bihar - Bhojpur, Bhagalpur, Gopalganj, Madhubani and Katihar. In each district, six villages were chosen for collecting data on village characteristics, schools (primary and upper primary) and household educational practices. In all, the study is based on data of 30 villages, 31 schools and 900 households. The study was conducted in July-September 2010.