Shakuntla Sinha knows where to cut corners to keep the house running with her husband's Rs.15,000 salary. The couple maintain a strict, austere lifestyle and rarely indulge, except when it comes to their kids' education. A Rs.2,000 fund is exclusively kept for their private tuitions.
In Bihar, there are millions of parents like Shankuntla and her husband Sun
il who are not satisfied with school education and think of tuitions as a basic necessity.
A recent report by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2011-12 reveals that nearly 46.7 percent children in government schools in Bihar take tuitions while 60.8 percent in private schools take tuition -- the highest figures in the country.
In comparison, nationally 23.3 percent of students in government schools and 21 percent in private schools take private tuition.
"Private tuition is the most important element outside school. It provides the (children) support to solve problems related to studies at school," said Shakuntla, a housewife.
Her two children -- a son and a daughter -- are studying in Class 7 and Class 8 in a private school here.
"We are forced to curtail other expenses to provide private tuition to our children. My husband is just a clerk in the Bihar government," Shakuntla said.
Then there's Guddan Khatoon who also prefers a private teacher over the school where her children study.
"We feel tension-free with private tuitions because school teachers do not give them full attention," she says.
Mukesh Singh, another parent, said there have been instances when he has detected spelling errors and even wrong math problems marked as correct by teachers. His daughter is a Class 10 student in a government-run high school here.
The ASER report has made it clear that parents across the country send their kids for private tuitions, but dependence on tuition is much higher in Bihar.
According to the report, the trend of school children opting for private tuitions indicate falling standards in school education and a dip in the quality of teachers.
Last year, another report had said that the practice of private tuition was fairly widespread in rural Bihar.
The 80-page report on "Elementary Education in Bihar: Progress and Challenges", released by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, said one out of every four boys and one out of every 10 girls in rural Bihar take private tuitions.
According to data, there are over 20 million students in government schools in Bihar.
There are 72,000 government-run primary and middle schools in the state and 10,000 high schools. Also, there are about 25,000 private schools across the state.
Last year, a report revealed that 94.1 percent children in Bihar study in government schools, 5.7 percent in private schools and 0.2 percent in unrecognized madrassas.
Another interesting finding of the report was that 6.6 percent of primary school teachers and 10.4 percent teachers of upper primary classes run private tuitions. Of them, 45.5 percent justified private tuitions as a "desirable practice". IANS