The State of Secondary Schools in Bihar, India


Literacy rate is an important indicator of progress, and secondary school education is the stepping stone to college and professional degrees. In India, the state of Bihar currently has the lowest literacy rate (63%), with a wide gender gap at secondary schools.1 Bihar education minister, PK Shahi, recently stated that 65% of gram panchayats did not have secondary schools. Existing schools had the highest student-teacher ratio in the country (53:1), and inadequate classrooms (80 students per classroom on average). 2,3

Full classrooms with inadequate teachers

Several factors have resulted in this dismal state, including inadequate funding, and corruption at the state level. PK Shahi said that ‘he was ashamed of the rampant corruption and other malpractices in higher education in the state.’4 They propose to setup 1000 secondary schools from 2013-14, and work on upgrading existing primary schools to secondary schools.

The ‘Bicycle Initiative’ for secondary school girls (5)

While on the one hand, there is a shortage of secondary schools, existing infrastructure is underutilized due to parents encouraging their children to work instead.  Lack of access is an important deterrent in going to school. In an attempt to reduce the drop-out rate and increase the number of girls going to secondary school, the Chief Minister of Bihar launched the ‘Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna’, and achieved a 10% increase in girls completing secondary school.5

Only time can tell if these initiatives will significantly improve the state of secondary education in Bihar in the long term. Measures to make parents and children realize the importance of education will ensure sustainability and promote further reform.


  1. Literacy in Bihar.
  2. Education in Bihar: Still a long road ahead.
  3. Secondary schools Bihar:
  4. Corruption, malpractices prevail in higher education: Bihar:
  5. Ideas for India:

One Response to “The State of Secondary Schools in Bihar, India”

  1. elobe14 Says:

    I agree with you, that the parents and the children need to be informed of the importance of education. I spent two years working in Benin and spent a good bit of time working in the schools. The most disappointing part was the overwhelming ratio of males to females. Spending time and speaking with people, girls were often called home to take care of siblings, to run errands, or to sell goods if the mother was busy. In addition, there were several instances of male professor/female student interactions that put the girls in difficult situations. This made it difficult for the girls to speak out. Yet another problem with the school I was located at in particular was the structure of the building. The classrooms were poorly built with wood, so what was said in one classroom could easily be heard from another classroom, making it difficult to concentrate on the material being presented. But compared to some other schools, they considered themselves lucky to have four walls on their building.

    Coming back to the main point of how to intervene, I believe the parents need to be informed of how education can improve the lives of their children. Many times, parents find it difficult to think ahead and fail to realize that the things the students are being taught in school can help them to get better jobs, bring in more money, and help the family in the future. Benin has made an effort to reduce tuition for girls and though it may have helped temporarily, it was just that, a temporary solution. Parents need to understand WHY it is beneficial to go to school and not just see it is a law that they are supposed to follow.

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