Jun. 3rd, 2011

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How Rs 2,000 brought Bihar's most heartening change

After 10 years of inaction where no new schools were opened and no teachers recruited, one of the best indicators of a changing Bihar is a group of girls cycling to school.
Archana Masih reports from the state.

Three times a week Deepti Kumari comes to Kilkari after school where she does things she has never done before.

She paints, makes toys from old newspapers and reads children's magazines.

The daughter of a khaini (raw tobacco) seller in Patna, Deepti spends most of her day after school in an activity centre set up by the Bihar government for underprivileged children going to state-run primary schools.

Like her, most of the children making paper birds under a tree that afternoon, had never painted or done any craft work before.

Mukesh, a Class 9 student whose father sells bananas, is learning judo and has won two medals in a district-level competition.

Shail, a Class 6 student whose father is no more and whose mother stitches buttons for a living, is learning Madhubani painting.

Children from neighbouring schools come to the centre which provides them paints, colours, craft-material, story books and has teachers for folk dance, judo, painting etc.
The centre also has a children's bank where the children deposit as little as Rs 2 and 5 and withdraw money for stationery etc.

The little boy with neatly combed hair -- his head barely reaching the top of the table -- says he is the manager for the day, showing me his deposit ledger.

In the last five years Bihar has spent half of the state budget on improving school education.

By its most successful scheme, providing cycles to Class 9 and 10 students, it greatly reduced the drop-out rate amongst girls in the state where female literacy at 33 per cent is the lowest in the country.

The first year of providing cycles in 2007-2008, brought 170,000 girls to Class 9 which has now risen to 500,000.

Gehlot copies Bihar in cycle distribution

JAIPUR: Chief minister Ashok Gehlot proposes to distribute 1.42 lakh bicycles to ClassIX and Class X girls belonging to the rural areas. It seems to be inspired by the successful "bicycle revolution" of Bihar, which was seen as one of the factors responsible for the thumping victory of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

The Rajasthan government will distribute cycles at a token price of Rs 100 to all such girls in the rural areas. Although the scheme was initiated during Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government and the token amount then was Rs 300, but the Gehlot government had been indifferent to it. There was hardly any focus on proper distribution of bicycles.

Bihar's "revolution: has already hogged the national limelight and Gehlot could not resist emulating it. Since 2007-08, Bihar has spent Rs174.36 crore on cycles for 871,000 schoolgirls. Girls enrolling in schools in the state have shot up from 160,000 in 2006-07 to 490,000 now. Dropouts among girls in Bihar declined to one million from about 2.5 million in 2006.

The project has been successful in Bihar as the money is given directly to the girls, who are required to show that they bought the cycle. However, it is yet to be seen as how the project is executed in Rajasthan.MORE


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