Teachers say girls lead the way in Bihar
Boys in the minority in Indian state’s schools
“Education of girls has improved considerably in the past five years and the credit should go to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,” said Jesuit Father Tom Perumalil, principal of a teachers’ training school in Patna, the state capital.
The priest’s remark came a few days after a survey by an NGO revealed that Bihar has more girls than boys in the age group of 6-14 in schools.
Bihar, a backward region in India, topped the list of states in admission and retaining of girls in schools. The survey revealed that the school dropout among girls dropped 75 percent in 2010 as compared to 2006 across all classes.
“Kumar has succeeded in increasing the enrollment of girls in schools and whatever he has done has worked for the good of the state,” Father Perumalil said.
He and Nazareth Sister Vijaya Chalil, principal of a leading school in Gaya, claim that the Catholic Church has played a crucial role in improving the education of girls across Bihar.
The Church manages 359 schools that educate 163,359 students in the state.
“We give priority to girls’ education,” said Sister Chalil, principal Nazareth Academy started in 1954.
“If we do have to make a choice between a boy and a girl, we always admit the girl, although she may be weak in her academic performance,” Sister Chalil said and added she has found girls perform better as the years go by.
Father Joseph Raj, who coordinates education in Patna archdiocese, said Church schools have a policy to admit 50 percent girls in all its English medium schools. Schools in the Hindi language medium admit more girls than boys, he said.
Father Peter Arockiasamy, who coordinates education in the Patna Jesuit province, said their schools admit one third of girls in the first grade as the state has many Catholic schools for girls.
Montfort Brother Felix, principal of Loyola School in Patna, said Kumar’s innovative policies of offering free bicycles to school going girls has helped improve primary education in Bihar.
“When girls are educated, automatically mothers are educated and the whole society improves,” he said.
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