The Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) conducted the Class 12 board examination for the 2016-17 academic session in February and declared the results in the last week of May. Out of 12.40 lakh students who took the intermediate examination, just 4.37 lakh (35.25%) students managed to qualify the test.
On June 5, eight left student and youth organisations -- SFI, DYFI, AISF, AISA, AIDSO, AIDYO, AIYF, RYA -- held a meeting to discuss the declining standard of education in Bihar. The meeting gave the call for Bihar Bandh on June 8, against the wrong evaluation of intermediate copies.
The three demands were re-evaluation of intermediate copies, resignation of the BSEB chairman and the state education minister, and implementation of a common school system. On June 8, a march was organised from Kargil Chowk in Patna, which was joined by hundreds of students and youths waving flags of their respective organisations. Similar marches were conducted in other parts of the state.
In Patna, the march was stopped by policemen, who put up barricades near the JP roundabout, from moving towards the legislative assembly. Police also baton-charged the marching students, and misbehaved with and abused girl students. The SFI and the DYFI demanded the removal of the heads of Pirbahor and Gandhi Maidan police stations.
To protest against the police action, leaders of the eight organiations -- Deepak Verma of SFI, Roashan Kumar of AIYF, Saurabh Kumar of AIDSO, Manish Kumar of RYA, Umashankar of AIDYO, Raj Kapoor of AISF, Rajnish Kumar of DYFI, Vikash Yadav of AISA – began an indefinite hunger strike in front of the BSEB office on June 12.
On the same day, CPI(M) leaders Arun Kumar Mishra and Ganesh Shankar Singh met the agitating leaders. On the second day of the hunger strike, CPI(M) state secretary Awadhesh Kumar met the student and youth leaders. He said, “It’s the prime duty of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to meet the agitating students, address them and solve the matter.” “If the government cannot solve the matter, this student movement will take the shape of a political movement,” he added.
He also issued a press note on the behalf of the CPI(M) Bihar state committee and extended the support to the demands raised by the students and youth organisations. Other Left Parties also extended their support to the agitation.
On the third day of the hunger strike, another protest march was organised by the eight organisations in Patna. During the protest march, a policeman molested a female student which further enraged the student community.
Now, one more demand was included – the suspension of the erring policeman. AIDWA national vice-president Rampari too demanded the suspension of the officer. And on the same night, he was suspended.
As the health of the fasting leaders deteriorated, they were shifted to the Gardiner Hospital.
On the fifth day of the hunger strike, a team from the police control room met the agitating students.
On June 16, the hunger strike was called off at the request of democratic forces.
On July 6, a convention was organised in IMA Hall in Gandhi Maidan, which was addressed by former principal of Patna College Nawal Kishor Choudhary, Prof. D J Narayan, Prof. Vinay Kanth and the leaders of student and youth organisations.
The movement has forced the government to reduce the fee for re-evaluation of intermediate copies and declare the results afresh without writing supplementary on the result sheet.
The agitation launched by the student and youth organisations has drawn the attention of not only the students of Bihar but also cultural activists, professors, Left political parties and the members of civil society.
Left students and youth organisations and members of civil society have come together to fight for a common school system in Bihar, to arrest the declining standard of education. The two-month-long movement has entered a new phase and it has the potential to snowball into a major student movement in Bihar.