Governance

COVID-19: Nearly 20 million students in Bihar government schools to be promoted

Parents praise the move, say the government saved the academic year of students

 
By Mohd Imran Khan
Last Updated: Wednesday 08 April 2020
A school in Bihar's Hazipur Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mukesh Kumar, Vijay Paswan, Mohan Rai and Kashif Khan — students in Bihar’s government-run primary and middle schools — share one thing in common: They don’t have to study and will soon be promoted without appearing for annual examinations.

The Bihar government — in an unprecedented move — decided on April 7, 2020 to promote approximately 20 million students in 72,000 government-run primary and middle schools without any annual exams.

It was, however, unclear how millions of students would overcome the learning gap once they are promoted without completing the curricula of the existing session.

The decision was taken due to the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The proposal to promote students without annual exams was approved by Bihar’s Education Minister Krishnandan Prasad Verma, according to a senior official of the education department.

A formal notification will be issued in this regard on April 8.

Verma said the decision was taken in view of the future of the school-going children, according to the official.

Students and their parents both praised the move, saying the state government had saved the academic year of students.

“We no longer have any stress to study and prepare for exams,” said Mukesh, a student in a middle school at Gardanibagh in Bihar capital Patna.

The parents of Vijay, a primary school student in Ranipur village near Patna, said they were worried about his education, since his school was shut.

“Now it is clear that our son will join Class 6, when school opens after lockdown,” said his mother.

The decision to promote students appears to be a good decision, but could bring harm as far as quality education was concerned, said a teacher at a government-run school in Gaya district, on the condition of anonymity.

“Teachers will have to face the real music,” he said.

Kashif, a student at Piroo village in Aurangabad, said he was unable to complete his studies because teachers were unable to teach students the entire syllabus.

“How could I have taken exams? It is good we are being promoted,” he said.

The government’s decision was a part of an attempt to save its own face, according to Ghalib Khan, a retired government officer who worked in the state education department.

“Books were provided to students late. Teachers completed barely half of the courses as well,” he said. “Teaching suffered after 4.5 lakh contractual school teachers sat on an indefinite strike, demanding equal pay for equal work,” he added.

Students were optimistic now, but they will soon have to cope with the syllabus and course material of their next class, said Khan.

The annual exams for Classes 1-4 were scheduled for March 26, while the exams for Classes 5-8 were scheduled for March 16.

Schools were closed, however, since March 13, after the increase in the number of cases of those who contracted COVID-19. This was in turn followed by the lockdown.

Children belonging to poor families in rural and semi-urban areas are enrolled in government schools across Bihar.

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