Despite resentment among the experts, the Centre’s move to scrap no-detention policy has been welcomed by many in the teaching community. The move will allow schools to detain students till Class 8 if they fail in the year-end exam.
The move comes at a time when various states, including Delhi, raised serious objections against the no-detention policy, citing it as a reason of high failure and drop-outs in classes 9 and 10.
Earlier this month, IANS quoted Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Higher Education, as saying in Tripura, “No-detention policy will be removed from next academic session as almost all states have expressed their concern over the falling quality of education since the introduction of the policy under the Right to Education Act.”
The agency also reported the minister as saying that there almost all states across the country have a unanimous view that the no-detention policy from the Right to Education Act should be removed.
Finally, the Centre scrapped the provision on Wednesday in a Cabinet meeting.
As per the decision, an enabling provision will be made in the Right of Children For Free and Compulsory Education Amendment Bill. However, the students will get a second chance to take another exam and pass. The bill will now be placed in the Parliament for approval.
The much-debated no-detention policy, which was an integral part of the Right To Education Act 2009, was implemented in the year 2010.
As per this policy, students in schools are promoted automatically to higher classes every year till the eighth grade.
Anurag Behar, who writes on ecology and education, interpreted the policy in Livemint, “The essence of the policy is that children should not be ‘failed’ and detained up to Class 8.” He further added that this also means there are no “examinations” in the narrow traditional sense of the word up to Class 8. Instead, the Act mandates a process of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) to assess and evaluate the student’s learning.
But in the last seven years of its implementation, the policy proved to be a major fiasco with jump in failure rates in classes 9 and 10.
One of the major setbacks of the policy faced was seen in Delhi where number of students who could read and write drastically decreased. Atishi Marlena, adviser to Delhi education minister, said to Hardnews in an interview that nearly 74 percent of the students in Class 6 in Delhi government schools could not read their textbook in 2016 as per government study.
This resulted in an increase in number of Class 9 failures in Delhi government schools.
“Before the no-detention policy was implemented, more than 65 percent students passed in Class 9 exams. But now it has dipped to around 50 percent,” said Shashi Kant Sinha, principal of a government co-ed school in Dwarka.
Ashok Agarwal, an activist and lawyer, obtained data through RTI which showed that only 52 percent students passed Class 9 in 2016-17.
Another teacher in a Delhi school, who did not wished to be named, told Firstpost that as per the no-detention policy, the students were not required to write any exam till Class 8 and they were passed, irrespective of how much they had learnt.
“The certainty that they would pass without any hindrance brought in laxity among some students. The effort to learn and to attend schools also declined drastically,” he said.
He added that some of the teachers too showed neglect towards teaching students on the pretext of the policy, which resulted in decline in learning.
The Delhi government too blamed the no-detention policy for this massive failure.
“This policy is weakening the foundation of the students in Classes 6, 7, and 8,” said Manish Sisodiya.
He also requested the Centre many times to do away with the no-detention policy as he saw the policy as the reason for the bad shape of education till Class 8.
The Delhi education department also introduced a new policy in 2016, called Chunauti-2018 to increase the pass percentage in class 10 in government schools in Delhi.
Not only the Delhi government but many other state governments also made the same complaints against the policy.
“Barring five states, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Telengana and Sikkim, that spoke in favour of continuing the no-detention policy, all other 25 states and union territories were against it, according to a survey by the National Council of Education Research and Training,” reported The Wire.
The website also reported that these states believe that the policy is lowering the level of education in the country.
But experts believe that the entire movement against no-detention policy is to absolve the government from the responsibility of enabling the students to learn.
Professor Janaki Rajan, a leading educationist of Jamia Milia Islamia University, told Firstpost that the Right to Education Act entrusts the government to ensure that the students learn.
“But by scrapping the no-detention policy, the government is passing its responsibility to the child,” she said.
She also said that there are misconceptions about the provision of no-detention policy, including the one that it discourages competitive environment.
“There is no scientific basis to this idea. For nowhere has any study shown that failing a student increases competitiveness,” she said.
Moreover, she added that the system of passing and failing in India was introduced by British in India.
“They did not introduce it to educate all Indians but to screen enough Indians who can become clerks. Why as a free country do we need to follow the same system?” she asked.
Professor Anita Rampal of the Delhi University also named the step to scrap no-detention policy as regressive.
“When the government of India introduced the policy, Ministry of Human Resource Development categorically mentioned that the government has been unable to provide the student with the proper learning environment. So the child cannot be penalised for it,” she said.
She added that it is not true that students showed laxity in learning due to certainty of passing provided by no-detention policy.
“We know how our classrooms and teaching methods are. They are not at all motivating for the child. How can we even blame the child for our failures?” she asked.
Ashok Agarwal said that all the complaints against no-detention policy are raised by government schools.
“How come private schools do not show any decline in pass percentage or student attendance due to no detention policy?” he asked.
He also said that the government machinery does not have any interest in educating the child and hence they are passing the buck to the child.