Educational infrastructure and education in Bihar

The importance of higher education in contributing towards the development of human potential is well accepted, both at the national level and in Bihar. However, the educational scenario in the state is very dismal. Bihar has lost its pre-eminent position and higher education is almost stagnant in the State. The progress of higher education in any country is assessed in terms of its institutional capacity. The educational institutional capacity is measured by the number of educational institutions viz. universities, and colleges, number of teachers and number of students seeking higher education. Even a casual look at these important indicators brings out the fact that higher education has remained away from the priorities of the state. The current status of higher education in the state is characterized by low enrolment particularly among girls, low completion rate and poor qualitative as well as quantitative infrastructure. Bihar’s rank is the lowest amongst major states in terms of Education Development Index, College-Population Index for professional education (0.4, 2001-02), Gross Enrollment ratio (11.00, 2009-10) and Gender Parity Index (0.53, 2009-10) in higher education. The women enrollment in terms of percentage to total enrollment is amongst the lowest in the State (31.25 per cent, 2009-10). The poor educational output at the basic level is the clear reflection of poor delivery of educational services. There are also large disparities in terms of distribution of colleges, enrollment rates and availability of academic as well as physical infrastructure. In this context, it is crucial to know the current status and the growth trends of higher educational institutions in the state relative to other states in country.

Growth in Institutional Capacity

Physical access to higher education is an important indicator which can be examined by considering total number of colleges present and also the growth trends of higher educational institutions. The higher education in the country as well as in Bihar has witnessed many fold increase in terms of institutional capacity since independence. During 1955-56 to 2009-10, the number of universities in India has registered an increase from 33 in 1955- 56 to 409 in 2009-10. Similarly, during the period, colleges for general education, has also witnessed approximately 18 fold increase, from merely 773 in 1955-56 to 14,146 in 2009-10. The period has also witnessed a massive expansion in enrolment across the country. The enrolment in higher education has increased from 7.5 million in 1955-56 to 172.9 million in 2009-10. Same trend was seen in Bihar in terms of progress in higher educational institutions. However, the rate of growth remained relatively low and the state has witnessed a lopsided development in case of colleges for higher and professional education. Universities in the state has increased from 2 to 18, colleges for general education from 50 to 817 and number of students enrolled for higher education from merely 59,314 to 9,47,959. Though the number of teachers in higher educational institutions has increased from 2,595 t0 24,099, but the pupil-teacher ratio has shown a poor trends. The ratio has increased from 23 to 39 during the same period.

Expansion, inclusion, and rapid improvement in quality throughout the higher and technical education system by enhancing public spending, encouraging private initiatives, and initiating the long overdue major institutional and policy reforms forms the core of the government policies in India (UGC, 2008). The state wise distribution and growth of colleges during the last 55 years has clearly revealed that the distribution and growth of institutions across states in the country is far from uniform. Comparative picture of these institutions during the year 1955-56, 1970-71 and 2009-10 have shown massive expansion of institutions for higher education across all states. However, this expansion is biased towards colleges for general education and professional colleges have shown relatively lesser growth during the period. During 1955-56, number of colleges for general education was 53 in Andhra Pradesh, 55 in Bihar, 42 in Kerala, 14 in Odisha, 79 in Punjab and 70 in Uttar Pradesh. During 2009- 10, the number of colleges in these states has increased to 1970, 817, 192, 634, 234 and 2,361 respectively. As regard to growth of professional colleges is concerned, states like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal has witnessed sustainable growth during the period 1956-57 to 2009-10. In Andhra Pradesh, number of colleges for professional education has increased from 23 in the year 1956-57 to 2,503 in 2009-10. Similarly, in Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh number of colleges for imparting professional education has increased substantially (from 30 to 344, from 15 to 475 and from 44 to 743 respectively) during the period. Contrary to this trend, Bihar has witnessed a very marginal increase in the number of colleges for professional education, from 27 in 1956-57 to 214 in 2009-10. Although, the growth was quite impressive during the first 20 years of independence, but later on after 1970s it has shown a sluggish growth as compared to other states of the country.

It is evident from above analysis that, all types of institutions have witnessed manifold increase in states like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Considering the importance of technical education for human capital formation, it is imperative to have a deeper analysis of the growth pattern of some of the professional institutions across states. It has been observed that during 1955-56, number of engineering colleges was only four in Andhra Pradesh, one in Kerala, three in Punjab, two each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. During 2009-10, the number has increased to 698, 98, 82, 96 and 212 respectively. Similar trend has been observed in these states in case of colleges for medical, agriculture, teacher training and polytechnic education during the period. Contrasting to the objective of expansion, the growth of all types of institutions in Bihar is either marginal or stagnant during the period under study. During 1955-56 to 2009-10, the number of agriculture college has increased from merely two to three, engineering colleges from five to ten, medical colleges from 7 to 37, colleges for teacher training from 5 to 33 and polytechnic institutions has increased from 3 to 17. There are comparatively fewer institutions offering technical education in the State. The lack of facility for providing technical education can be a major reason for the backwardness of the State. This also leads to discontent among the students in particular and society at large.

Distribution of Universities and University level Institutions

Although the structure of university level institutions is equally wide in India, but their distribution is highly unequal across states. On one hand, there are seven states, which have only one university, three states have two each, while on the other hand there are seven states which have 21 or more university-level institutions. During 2009-10, there are 40 central universities, with equally uneven distribution. There are two states Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, which have four central universities. Skewed distribution has also been seen in case of state universities. States like Haryana, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have established a large number of universities. There are 105 deemed university in the country; Tamil Nadu tops the list with 21 deemed university. There are five institutes in the country which are established under state legislature act and 41 institutions come under the category of institute for national importance. Like other states, distribution of universities is equally wide in Bihar. In the year 2009, out of 18 Universities, there is 1 central university, 13 state university, 1 private university, 2 deemed to be university and 1 institution established under State legislature Act. Apart from that there are 2 institutes of national importance.

Disciplinary Orientation of Colleges

Recognizing the changing context of the scientific enterprise, and to meet present national needs in the new era of globalization it is necessary to impart technical education qualitatively and quantitatively. Bihar shares 8 per cent of total population of the country but it shares only about 0.35 per cent of engineering colleges, 1.78 per cent of medical colleges, 0.89 per cent of polytechnics and 0.8 per cent of management colleges of the country. There are only 37 medical colleges and 10 engineering colleges in the State. The corresponding figures for Andhra Pradesh are 415 and 698, for Tamil Nadu 198 and 440, for Karnataka 423 and 174 and for Maharashtra 141 and 312 respectively. At present, there are only 17 polytechnics in the state which is extremely low as compared to other states like Uttar Pradesh (163), Karnataka (273), Tamil Nadu (363) and Maharashtra (227). There is huge shortfall in the number of colleges for IT education. Disciplinary orientation of colleges shows that during 2009-10, 817 colleges are multidisciplinary in nature, 10 are for engineering and related education, 37 are for medical, 33 for teacher training and 134 other institutes which includes institutions for law, agriculture management studies, etc. This implies that general education in the State has been accorded more importance than professional and technical education.

The current economic super powers are synonymous with the advanced and developed service economy. In current globalized era, demand for managers is increasing to support the growth of a company and the whole economy. There is severe lack of skilled manpower due to absence of management schools in the state. This absence of professional colleges is also affecting the Educational infrastructure and education in Biharentrepreneurial ability of the State. According to the Report of the working group on Management Education, there are over 1,700 business schools in the country. During 2006-07, the number of management schools in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Orissa were 239, 247, 202 and 247 respectively. However, number of management schools in Bihar is only 14, which is 0.8 per cent of the total B-schools in the country. The situation of its neighboring state Uttar Pradesh, with 181 management schools, is also reasonably good.

Number of colleges per lakh population

The data clearly reveals the backwardness of Bihar in terms of number of educational institutions particularly institutions offering professional courses. Considering the unprecedented impact of professional education on economic growth and social development, it is pertinent to have a deeper analysis of the situation. The availability of educational institutions can also be measured by college population index (C-PI) which measures the number of colleges per lakh population in the age group 18-23. Higher C-PI means more number of colleges available per lakh population, which clearly indicates greater accessibility of higher educational institutions in that particular area. According to a study conducted by UGC the C-PI for India as a whole stood at 12.4 per lakh population in 2001-02, the C-PI for general education in the country was 8.1, professional education is 2.2 and for technical, medical and others it was 0.9 per lakh population. States like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and some of the North Eastern States have C-PI higher than the national average. The number of professional colleges was higher in Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa. Andhra Pradesh has highest College Population Index for technical education also. Bihar is much below the national figure and also amongst major states for each category of institution. The C-PI for all types of colleges in Bihar is only 7.2, which is among the lowest in the country. The situation is more alarming with regard to the discipline-wise break-up of institution. There are only 5.5 colleges per lakh population for general education, 0.4 colleges per lakh population for professional education, 0.4 colleges per lakh population for medical education and only 0.1 colleges per lakh population for both technical and agricultural education. Moreover, C-PI exclusively for women‟s student is only 2.1 as compared to the national average of 3.3.

Gross Enrollment Ratio

Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) indicates the capacity of the education system to enroll students of a particular age group. In simple terms, it shows the general level of participation in a given level of education. A high GER generally indicates a high degree of participation. A GER value approaching 100 per cent indicates that a country is, in principle, able to accommodate all of its school-age population. As against the national average of 15.0 per cent, the GER in higher education for Bihar is 11.0 per cent which is much below the national average. The GER figure for Kerala (13.1), Maharashtra (21.4), Andhra Pradesh (16.9) and Karnataka (18.1) are much above the national average. GER in higher education for females is also very low (7.5) in the State.

Recent Initiatives by the Government of Bihar

It is heartening to note that the state government in recent years has taken some initiatives in a planned manner to revive the higher education system in the state. Several new institutions were established in last couple of years. The proposals of several other institutions are in pipeline. Some of the institutions which were established recently are: Patna extension center of BIT Mesra, Indian Institute of Technology –Patna, Central University of Bihar- Gaya, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research – Muzaffarpur, National Institute of Fashion Technology-Patna, Chanakya National Law University, and Chandragupt Institute of Management both in Patna. The Aryabhatt Knowledge University has also started its operation in Patna. Steps are taken to revive the ancient Nalanda University as Nalanda International University. With the objective to equip students with the latest skills and customized short-term training programs at an affordable cost, Bihar Knowledge Center has been established by Government of Bihar. The proposal for opening of few more specialized universities and institutions are under consideration. They are Rashtra Kavi Ramdhari Singh Dinkar Hindi University, Women’s University, Sports University and Bihar University of Information Technology. Four more engineering colleges will soon be operational at Chhapra, Madhepura, Begusarai and Sitamarhi districts of the state.

Conclusion

In ancient times, Bihar had well governed administrative system in the country. Education sector was well developed with universities like Nalanda and Vikramshila attracting students from all over the world. But, Bihar with such a glorious history of education and learning in the past is currently one of the most educationally backward states of the country. It is evident from the preceding analysis that the situation of higher education system in Bihar is rather depressing. The current status of higher education in the state is characterized by low enrolment ratio particularly among girls, low completion rate, low college population index and poor qualitative as well as quantitative infrastructure. Gross enrolment ratio in Bihar is amongst the lowest in the country with wide gaps between males and females. The study of the status of educational institutions in Bihar reveals that there is a mismatch between demand and supply of educational institutions. The main problem of the higher and technical education system is its inability to cater to the demand for quality education. Though, several quality institutions were established in recent years, but they are not capable enough to cater the growing demands of the students. Most of the new proposals are pending due to government apathy. There appears to be a correlation between the quantity and quality of higher educational institutions in the State and its economic and industrial development. More number of qualified manpower is a necessary as well as sufficient condition for sustainable growth of the economy. This also implies that regional socio-economic imbalances and the creation of capacity for higher education in the state are mutually related. The deteriorated situation of higher education in the state needs to accord priority.

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