Nitish’s ‘cycles for students’ may still work

AM Jigeesh | | Updated on: Jan 22, 2018

bl14_Bihar cycles.jpg

Enrolment in schools has seen a three-fold increase in five years; drop rate has declined

Many argue that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already bagged the benefits of his much-acclaimed Mukhyamantri Balak and Balika Cycle Yojana (scheme for cycles for students) in the 2010 elections. But in 2015, when a large number of young girls and boys, who had enrolled in the scheme as students between 2007 and 2011, will be casting their first Assembly vote, the NDA may worry about the scheme’s impact.

The scheme apparently is giving a good image to the Nitish Kumar Government.

Enrolment in schools

“Enrolment in our school has increased three-fold in the last five years and cycles is a major reason for this,” says Vishwa Ranjan and Samir Kumar, two enterprising teachers of Mouryachak Supasang School in Murgiyachak of Nalanda district.

They say that earlier, the total number of students enrolled would be around 250. “Now we have 830 students in our register. About 300 of them attend regularly, while in 2006-07, just 15 students used to sit in the class,” they said, listing the names of several successful students from the school.

“Students have become secure, confident and self-reliant,” the teachers vouched, but said it has impacted only on quantity, not on quality of the education.

“Now we have more number of students, but no new teachers. Our work has increased, not salaries,” they added.

Sneha and Shweta, two new voters in the districts to whom  BusinessLine  spoke, said their votes will be for the ‘arrow’. Both of them are from the Dalit (Paswan) families, but said scholarships and cycles helped them to complete matriculation, and hence they are thankful to Nitish Kumar.  DM Diwakar, Director of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies in Patna, agrees with the teachers. But he adds that it has helped the State to address the issue of drop rate.

“The scheme has resulted in a silent revolution. There is a remarkable difference in the education sector in the State with such welfare measures,” he said, citing two studies on such schemes and its impact on the society. About 47,44,966 students, of which 24,57,539 are girls, benefitted from this scheme till 2013. As per this universal scheme, ₹2,500 is given in cash to a student in a government school to buy a bicycle.

Impact on elections

Chinmaya Kumar, Country Economist of International Growth Centre, a venture of the London School of Economics and University of Oxford, says the scheme will have an impact in the election. “They are now first-time voters and a good number of them are keen to vote for Nitish Kumar. The scheme has had more of an impact on the backward, Dalit and Maha-Dalit families, as their children had no option than government schools, due to their socio-economic status,” Kumar, who has co-authored a working paper titled “Cash versus Kind: Understanding the Preferences of the Bicycle-Programme Beneficiaries in Bihar”, said.

Published on October 13, 2015
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