No exams, no detention policy in schools proves disastrous

No exams, no detention policy in schools proves disastrous

No exams, no detention policy in schools proves disastrous

All is not well with the ‘no detention’ policy introduced by former human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal in the country’s schools during the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

Over four years after the Right to Education Act came to force, implementation of one of its key provisions which prohibits holding back and expulsion of children from schools till the attainment of elementary education is bringing shocking results.

The provision was brought in to provide elementary school children an environment free from fear, anxiety and stress to allow them learn and grow on their own pace as well as check the drop out rates. It, however, has turned out to be counter productive.

The ground realities have begun surfacing now with the Central Board of Secondary Education last year making it mandatory for all the students of class IX to secure at least 25 per cent score in their summative assessment in order to get promoted to Class X.

About 70 per cent students of government schools in Chandigarh are set to repeat one more year in class IX as they failed to secure minimum 25 per cent marks in their summative assessment conducted in March. These children could not improve their score even after they were given two additional chances.

The situation is more or less similar in most of the states. It is alarming in schools operating under various state governments, especially those in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The worst affected are those children studying in rural areas.

Sensing that situation was going out of hand, the Punjab assembly recently passed a unanimous resolution to re-introduce examinations for classes V and VIII while the state cabinet decided that examinations will be conducted for all students from class I onwards.

Many government school teachers and principals, while speaking to Deccan Herald, conceded that ensuring minimum learning level of children has now become a big challenge for them.

“Children now show a lackadaisical attitude towards their studies. Parents also don’t bother anymore as they know their wards can not be held back in the class. They do not mind allowing their children to remain absent even on the day of test conducted at school. Teachers are helplessness. They say what do they do when children are not listening to them?” the principal of a government school in Bhagalpur district of Bihar said on condition of anonymity.Learning levels of such children are exposed when they reach the level of Class IX. “Most of them can not secure even 20 marks out of 100 in the class test. We, however, promote them to Class X, giving grace marks. We have no other option,” he added.

Top rated public schools and most of the Kendriya Vidyalayas, however, are less affected, compared to others, as they have the advantage of getting children from well-to-do and educated families. “There is some adverse impact of the no-detention policy in our schools also. But we keep building pressure on our teachers. We ask them to identify
underperforming children and take corrective measures,” a KVS official said.

Doubts over efficacy

The states had been resisting the policy since the day it was mooted by Sibal. A parliamentary committee too expressed its doubts over the efficacy of the no detention policy when it was being introduced along with the RTE Act. But, the then HRD minister did not pay heed to them and went ahead with his decision to do away with the system of examination in elementary schools.

A sub-committee, set up by the central advisory board of education when Sibal was the HRD minister, has now come up with a conclusion that the no-detention policy has had a “very bad” impact on the children, recommending that government should reintroduce examination system at least for Class V and VIII.

“In our final report, we are proposing that there must be screening of students at Class III level. Schools must also hold screening of children at Class V and detaining underperformers. We are also recommending that examination must be conducted at Class VIII level and students be detained in this class if they fail to qualify,” the Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal, who heads the sub committee, said.

The committee, which will soon hand over its report to the ministry, has also recommended that government should make it mandatory for students to register minimum attendance of 80 per cent in their classes so that they are benefited by the CCE under the RTE Act.

“Most of the states have conveyed to us that learning levels of students has deteriorated in their schools because of no detention policy. I personally visited many states to take stock of the situation and found the policy has had very bad impact on children. Those students who are meritorious are not getting any incentives. Students are being given grace marks and promoted. I think it is not good,” Bhukkal said.

The minister said the teachers were unable to take control of the situation despite governments providing them training for effective implementation of the CCE. “We have highly qualified teachers in school but many of them are yet to understand how the CCE should be implemented,” she said.

The recommendations of the committee have raised fresh hopes among many states which are unable to tackle the situation. “It is high time. The new HRD minister must take a call to secure the future of our children. It’s ultimately the quality of education that matters. A high literacy rate with poor learning levels of its citizens will not do any good to our country,” a senior official of the Uttar Pradesh government said.