As Bihar’s education system taken a beating after the topper scam, the state Education Minister Ashok Choudhary said on Tuesday that the Bihar government is committed to quality education for children.”The state government has worked a lot on development of infrastructure. We are contemplating as how to ensure quality education. In his ‘seven resolves’, the chief minister has included quality education. The government is sensitive and committed towards providing quality education,” Choudhary said after releasing an UNICEF report on the state of the world’s children.

Stating that a lot of development work has taken place in education sector in the past one decade, the minister said development meant investment in people especially in children and for this everyone concerned should work for ensuring quality education.

He also released a teachers’ handbook on inclusive learning for secondary schools in Bihar to promote quality teaching at the secondary level. The handbook has been prepared by Bihar Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad (BMSP) with the support from the UNICEF and Pratham.

Stating that there has been a significant change in enrolment at elementary levels, the minister said that gross enrolment ratio at primary level had increased from 86% in 2007 to almost 99.9% in 2015, while at upper primary level NER (net enrolment ratio) had increased from as low as 32.7% to 87.6%.

Talking about dropout rates, Choudhary said that they have declined to 2.1% in 2014-15 from 11.4% in 2006. Similarly, the student-teacher ratio had also improved in the state.There was one teacher for 78 students in 2004-05, but now there was one teacher for 50 students in 2014-15, he said.

The state government is also spending Rs 2,200 crore with the help of World Bank for imparting training to teachers by 2020. “We are doing better than Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat on NERs,” Choudhary said.”We have to work hard to improve the quality of education across the state. We have started Operation Clean to do away the malpractices in the field of education,” he added

Speaking on the occasion, UNICEF chief (Bihar) Yameen Mazumdar said while is showing positive changes, there are many challenges that remain in promoting learning and reaching the most marginalised children. “Globally 4.9% was spent on education in 2010 whereas India spent 3.3% of its GDP on education. However, Bihar was showing a positive sign as education remained its top priority with the allocation of 15.31% for education in 2016-17 Budget”, he said.

He added that girls’ share to total school enrolments now stood at 50% and added that enrolments amongst Dalits, OBCs and other minorities registered an increase.

Talking about the challenges, he said: “However, Bihar still has 19% of total out of school children in the country. A total 11 lakh children were still not going to school and approximately 45.8% elementary teachers untrained in Bihar.”Net enrolment at secondary level continued to be low at 47.9%, he added.