(Info) Education Facilities in Bundelkhand




Education Facilities in Bundelkhand

At the very least, every village should have a working primary school and there should be a middle and secondary school at walking distance from the village.

However, according to Census 2001 data, in both UP Bundelkhand and MP Bundelkhand, around 20% of the villages did not have a primary school 2001 (see table in Amenities in Villages and Households). Ironically, the situation was worst in Jhansi, the region’s `most developed’ district; nearly 40% of the district’s villages did not have a primary school. Only in Datia did over 90% of the villages have a primary school.

In UP Bundelkhand, there was roughly one middle school per three villages; in MP Bundelkhand, the figure was one per five villages. Less than 10% of villages in the entire region had a secondary school.

While one can find a large number of colleges in rural areas in 'developed’ states like Punjab and Maharashtra, aggregated Census 2001 figures showed that in the entire Bundelkhand region with over 11,000 villages, there were only 35 villages with colleges.

The paucity of higher education institutions is reflected in low percentage of literates with educational attainment above middle school (see table below). Also notable is paucity of technical training institutes. As a result, a large number unemployed youth are neither in a position to take advantage of any opportunities that would come by from planned industrial investments, nor do they have the skills to command higher wages in labour markets outside the region.

Educational attainment of literates (2001)

District Total literates % Matric/ Higher Secondary/ Diploma % Graduates Postgraduates
Jhansi 958769 21.2 8.4
Lalitpur 384491 12 4.6
Jalaun 782033 9 6.6
Hamirpur 490606 16.5 5.2
Mahoba 305662 14.6 4.9
Banda 670986 15.8 5.8
Chitrakoot 392997 13.2 3.8
Datia 373358 11.9 4
Tikamgarh 542498 14 3.5
Chhatarpur 631370 13 4.9
Panna 420622 11.5 3.3
Damoh 548331 12.5 4
Sagar 1118993 14.4 5.8

Source: District-wise basic data sheets of Census 2001. Percentages derived from absolute figures and rounded off.

Though the situation is better with respect to primary education infrastructure in most districts of the region (see table in Amenities in Villages and Households), there is a big question mark on quality of education. As in case of village-level health centres, absenteeism among staff is common.

The Mid Day Meal scheme, introduced across the country, has certainly led to increase in presence of children at school, but a negative consequence seen across scores of village schools is that all the attention of both the staff and the children is focussed on the meal. Practically no teaching takes place after meals are served; in many schools across Bundelkhand young children go to school only for the meals.

Several methods to improve schooling were tried out in Lalitpur district in 2004-06 under a UNICEF-funded `quality education package’ implemented in all 874 formal primary schools in the district. The package included supply of creative workbooks, desks, and sports-kits to transform the school environment, and motivation of parents to take interest in the working of schools.

Earlier, some methods of alternative schooling were tried out in MP under the state government’s Shiksha Mission; five alternative schools were set in three blocks of Tikamgarh district by the state resource centre, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, in collaboration with Eklavya.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) provides a good opportunity to take forward these experiences. SSA however does not tackle a basic problem faced by poor parents: while primary education is free, there are high indirect costs associated with purchase of uniforms, books and private tution, to make up for incompetence or disinterest of teachers.

Scholarships for poor/SC/ST children helps meet some of this cost, but a large 'poverty and social monitoring’ survey (PSMS-II) conducted jointly by the UP state government’s Planning Department and the World Bank in 2002-03 found indicated that in rural areas of UP Bundelkhand, 50% of poor households did not get this benefit; in urban areas, nearly 90% of the poor were not covered [Directorate, Tables 18, 19].

In many Bundelkhand villages, SC/ST parents face a bigger problem: they are forcibly prevented from sending their children to attend school by upper caste village leaders; families belonging to social groups that were classified as `criminal tribes’ suffer the most.  Another, more common observation is that children from lower status social groups are routinely made to do unpaid menial tasks in schools. 

As in the rest of India, English-medium private schools have significant presence in small towns of Bundelkhand, and are the preferred choice of all families that can afford the fees. In rural areas, penetration of private schools was low in 2002-03 according to PSMS-II data. Reviewing the data for children from rural households between the age of 5 and 18 years, the UP government’s Planning Department observed [Directorate, p 131]: `Remarkably, in the Bundelkhand region nearly 93% of the poor children were going to government schools.’

The implicit note of self-congratulation was unwarranted. Only 7% of poor children in villages were going to private schools because there were not enough of them; in urban areas of UP Bundelkhand, nearly 60% of children from poor households were going to private schools [Directorate, Table 19].

Given the state of government schools, the number of private schools in rural areas is bound to increase, for obvious reasons: the biggest attraction for parents is that classes are held regularly; teachers who don’t come to work don’t get paid, or get fired. Increasing presence of private schools will create two distinct categories of children in villages: one comprising children who get free meals in schools but little education, and others who get no free meals, but manage to pick up arithmetic and writing skills, and some English. Poor households that desire to see their children in the second category will need to increase their monthly income by around 20%, or make an equivalent cut in other expenditure—on food, clothing or agriculture inputs. Children’s education is likely to emerge as a cause for indebtedness.

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Courtesy : bundelkhandinfo.org