A new International Growth Centre report argues that teacher incentive programmes can help improve the quality of education in Bihar. This article first appeared in the Times of India.

The International Growth Centre, UK, has in its recent paper on “Education Policies and Practices: What Have We Learnt and the Road Ahead for Bihar” has stressed the need for more incentives for teachers so as to improve the quality of education.

The 58-page report has been prepared under the aegis of IGC at LSE and published this month. It says a state-wide data system needs to be created to link students’ performance with teacher effectiveness. Such a data system will also help monitor the performance of schools and allow the administrators to take remedial action in schools that fare badly, the report says.

The report said the government has undertaken several policy initiatives to lower the cost of schooling. These include providing free textbooks, free uniforms, midday meals and free bicycles.

“However, much remains to be done for improving the schooling infrastructure. Only 60 per cent of the schools have classrooms in good condition; 10 per cent of the primary schools still lack drinking water facility; more than 70 per cent of the primary and upper primary schools do not have separate girls’ toilets. These are some areas of concern which should be of highest priority to the policymakers,” the report says.

The paper assesses the status of education, both in terms of quantity and quality, in Bihar in absolute terms and relative to other states in India. It also surveyed the education policies and provides a perspective on the current policies in the field of education in Bihar.

“The aim of this paper was to assess the status of education in Bihar, identify the correlates of educational outcomes, and analyse the education policy initiatives of the government of Bihar. We first look at the status of education (both quality and quantity) in Bihar, mainly at the primary and upper primary levels,” said co-authors Priya Ranjan (University of California, Irvine) and Nishith Prakash (University of Connecticut).

It said the rate of out-of-school children is higher among older children. The enrolment rate at the upper primary level is still very low. Also, the news on the quality front is far from satisfactory, the report noted.

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