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On 1st August 2018, the centre approved the scrapping of the No-Detention Policy, effective from the present academic year with a proposal that students can be detained in class 5 and 8 while providing a chance to reappear for the examination after two months. In case they do not pass, the state will then have the option of detaining them.  Section 16 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 states clearly that ‘No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education’. This is called the No-Detention Policy, introduced as part of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) to ensure all-round development of students, covering the elementary stage of schooling from classes 1 to 8. This policy had been under the radar after a sub-committee of Central Advisory Board of Education was constituted to assess the implementation of CCE in the context of No Detention provision, where all the States/UTs were requested to share their views on it. Following which, 23 states suggested a modification to the No-Detention Policy. Due to the concerns expressed by various states over the declining quality of education, the centre finally decided on its revision.

The No-detention Policy assured one of the fundamental rights, Right to Education. The policy universalised education, which is much needed, especially in a country like India. The policy did not just help promote the students till their elementary schooling without examinations, but the students were assessed not only on academics but also on the basis of life skills, attitudes and values, games and sports, and other co-curricular activities, ensuring a holistic approach to assessment through CCE. The implementation of this policy also served as one of the factors for the decrease in the drop-out rates of students at the elementary level.                                                                                 

Arguments in favour of the policy have pointed out that detaining students at an elementary level damages their self-esteem and brings social stigma attached to failing, contradictory to the RTE Act’s assurance of ‘free of fear, trauma and anxiety’ education. Some activists and educationists also contend that scrapping of this policy leads to the dilution of other elements of RTE like admitting children in age-appropriate classes. Section 4 of the RTE Act (2009) states, ‘Where a child above six years of age has not been admitted in any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age.’ “What this means is, a struggling fifth grader can be made to repeat a class but a thirteen-year-old who has never been to school can join class 8 directly, how can you have these two policies together?”, says Khagesh Jha, a lawyer and an activist. Making children repeat classes may also adversely affect the marginalised children who will eventually drop out, increasing the risk of these children being exposed to social evils like juvenile crimes, child labour, etc. The detention will become an added disincentive, especially for girls as parents will then have a reason to marry off their girls which goes against the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao government scheme.

As expressed by various states, No-Detention Policy compromised the quality of education. The policy has been criticized by many teachers, reasoning that the students have developed a mindset that ensures them promotion to the next class even if they do not perform well, leading to lethargy and laxity among students. One of the major setbacks of this policy was observed in Delhi where a number of students who could read and write drastically decreased. Atishi Marlena, an adviser to Delhi Education Minister, told Hardnews in an interview that nearly 74%  of students in class 6 in Delhi Government schools could not read their textbooks, as per government study in 2016. According to “Annual Status of Education report” (ASER), which measures the overall learning level, found out that learning outcome remained below par. The falling learning outcome translated in over 20% dropout at class IX.     

The policy was introduced by the government to ensure that each child received the education that they deserve. Providing an education to underprivileged children by ensuring that they complete their elementary schooling where children are promoted to the next class even if they haven’t attended a single class with CCE failing miserably, merely relieves the government of their obligation to ensure universalisation of education at the cost of quality of education.       

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) which was introduced to holistically evaluate each student failed miserably as the teachers were not informed and trained efficiently on how and on what basis the students were to be educated and evaluated. A well-executed Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) with well-trained teachers for its proper implementation is the need of the hour. A number of workshops and training programs needs to be planned and organised in order to enable the teachers to evaluate the students. This will ensure the all-round development of students in an effective manner. Regular and continuous activities are conducted throughout the year with various tools and assessment methods to assess students’ mental, physical and emotional aspects of students’ progress. The introduction of CCE is a reformative move in the education system of India. But the reality remains that its implementation has not been well executed.

Modification to the previous No-Detention Policy, detention of students in class 5 and 8 with a chance to reappear for the examinations after two months is a well thought-out policy. Though it is agreed that a written examination is not the only factor that determines success and failure, it is vital to evaluate and understand a child’s growth. But the fault in our education system or the quality of education cannot just be based on the failure of No-Detention Policy. An encouraging and friendly environment for learning needs to be put in place. As per the RTE Act, 2009 Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) should be maintained in both primary and upper primary level; 30:1 and 35:1 respectively. As per Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE), dated 9th February 2017, the PTR at national level elementary schools is 24:1. Another challenge that our education system faces is lack of elementary school teachers with requisite qualifications to teach students. Leakages in the funds allocated for education purpose is a huge hindrance to the effective functioning of government schools in India. No-Detention Policy or any educational policy will prove to be a major fiasco or regressive if all the other elements mentioned above is not altered or rectified. It is important to focus on the quality of education rather than only enrolment and detention.                                                                                                                                                 

References

Amendment scrapping no detention policy will weaken the entire Right to education, say experts. (2018, August 8). Scroll.in. Retrieved from  https://scroll.in/article/887182/amendment-scrapping-no-detention-policy-will-weaken-the-entire-right-to-education-act-say-experts

Chaudhary,P. (2017, September 30). No-Detention Policy in the schools – should it be scrapped?. ClearIAS.com. Retrieved from https://www.clearias.com/no-detention-policy/

Insights into Editorial: No-Detention policy in school may be scrapped from next academic year: Union Minister. (2017, July 7). InsightsIAS. Retrieved from http://www.insightsonindia.com/2017/07/07/insights-editorial-no-detention-policy-school-may-scrapped-next-academic-year-union-minister/

No Detention Policy. (n.d.).  Insight IAS. Retrieved from http://www.insightsonindia.com/

Student-Teacher Ratio. (2017, February 9). Press Information Bureau. Retrieved from http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/Student-Teacher%20Ratio.pdf

Image Credit: Hindustan Times

 

                                                                                

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Written By Stuti Pradhan

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