Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stressed the need for educating girls as this has been proven to help check population growth.
The CM pointed out that “if a girl is matriculate, the fertility rate on an average comes down to two per cent, and if she has completed school education, it further falls to 1.7 per cent nationally”.
“The Bihar government has been consistently working towards providing the best possible education to the students of the state. The government has also decided to increase the budget allocation for the sector from 21 per cent to 25 per cent of the total budget,” said the CM at an event organised to mark the birth anniversary of India’s first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on Friday.
The overall fertility rate has significantly come down in Bihar, Kumar said.
“The rate was 4.3 per cent in 2011-12, and now the overall ratio decreases to 2.9 per cent. Efforts are being made by the state government to bring it to two per cent,” he said.
The fifth National Family Health Survey, conducted by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that the total fertility rate (TFR) in India has declined from 2.2 children per woman in 2015-16 to 2.0 in 2019-21.
According to the report, India has made significant progress in population control in recent times, but there are wide inter-regional variations with five states still not having achieved a replacement level of fertility of 2.1.
Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), Jharkhand (2.26) and Manipur (2.17) were the five states, according to the NFHS-5 conducted from 2019-21.
Kumar also warned of action against teachers who fail to perform their duties.
“Teachers play a crucial role in shaping society. Therefore, they must strive to provide quality education to their pupils at all times. Action will be taken against them if they fail to perform their duties,” he said.
On Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the CM said, “He (Azad) was a scholar, educationist, and freedom fighter who played an instrumental role in the development of the education system of independent India. He, like Mahatma Gandhiji, knew that Hindu-Muslim unity was very necessary for the freedom of India and worked for this… We must build tolerance and respect towards different faiths.” The CM, on the occasion, launched a book comprising guidelines for ditching school bags on Saturday.
Saturdays will be a ‘bagless’ day in all the government schools of the state, said Dipak Kumar Singh, additional chief secretary of the education department.