Have you ever thought over why Bihar with Rs 6,610 per capita income continues to occupy the lowest position in the country whereas the national per capita income is Rs 38,084? Do you have any reasons to explain for the sorry state of affairs? What are the things in state which you could be proud of? Will you continue to harp on what Bihar had in the past, refusing to acknowledge the reality of today’s life style there?

Don’t you think we need to wake up to the necessity of exploring the possibilities of making Bihar on a par with other developed states within the country, if not the world?

The Nobel Prize laureate Prof Amartya Sen holds that without compulsory universal education, no economic development is possible. This relates to the role and importance of basic education in economic development, which is immediately and directly relevant for Bihar.

Our Constitution lays down that the state is to endeavour to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education until children complete the age of 14". The apex court made it a fundamental right in 1993.

This year the central government has passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill. It seeks to provide education to children aged between 6 to 14 years.

However, of Bihar even now almost half of the population is illiterate. What employability skills can you expect from them to get a job and raise the per capita income of the state? 99% of even those who are literate and educated lack English communication skills, one of the selection criteria in the global job avenues.

On the other hand, the educationally conscious and financially sound parents in the state manage to get their children have working knowledge of English, saving the state’s prestige. But they constitute a very meager percentage. The large number of people commits their children to government schools where English education is discouraged. Today’s global job market and service industries give preference to English speaking candidates, offering them at least Rs 10000 to 15000 per month.

Just imagine Bihar speaking English and multiplying its per capita income. It has all potentials that can convert that state into well-developed one provided a political will power is demonstrated.

Remarkably, Delhi government has decided to introduce English as the medium of instruction in its schools, aiming towards improving English skills of children. The West Bengal government in 1984 completely removed teaching and learning of English from primary school curriculum but restored it in 1999.

The Karnataka Government that tried to impose Kannada as the medium of instruction in primary schools retreated with the Supreme Court interventions directing the government not to stand in the way of parents’ dreams of children having English education, which is the need of hour.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has recently said, “Love for Hindi does not necessarily mean to oppose English. English cannot be ignored. However, English could not be made compulsory language in schools, but all facilities should be made available to students to learn and read English.

Is it enough?

Bihar needs to take a concrete and bold policy decision for English education in the state as a recent survey conducted by Lingua Bulletin reveals the fact that people want a proper English education here. Will you take to streets for a larger social cause of Bihar, asking the government to make sure everyone receives quality English education and enhances per capita income?

Dr. Birbal JhaDr Birbal Jha is a noted author and Managing Director of Lingua Multiservices Pvt Ltd. He is credited as creating a revolution in English training in India with slogan ‘English for all’.