States tell Centre to stop automatic promotion of children in schools

States tell Centre to stop automatic promotion of children in schools

Many of the state governments have demanded abolition of automatic promotion of children till class VIII, noting that the provision made under the Right to Education Act to check dropout rates has turned out to be detrimental to the academic growth of children.

Many states also sought restoration of Class X board examinations in schools, saying the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) system, introduced in 2011 to replace the system of annual examination, was not feasible and adversely affecting the learning outcome of students, sources said.

This came at a meeting of the state education ministers and secretaries on Saturday, convened by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to hold consultations on formulation of a new education policy. The meeting was presided over by HRD Minister Smriti Irani.

During discussions on examination reforms, many states, including Rajasthan, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Nagaland, said “no detention” policy under the RTE Act was harming children. Children do not take their studies seriously as they know that they will be promoted to the next class. These students fail to perform after class VIII.

Demanding restoration of class X board examination system, the states said that
learning outcome of school children was seriously affected, especially in rural areas, where schools lacked adequate trained teachers to implement CCE in its right spirit, sources said.

The HRD Ministry, however, remained non-committal on the issues. “Essentially, everybody is talking about quality of education. It is a structured discussion, not to say this has to be reverted. Quality has wide dimensions,” School Education Secretary Vrinda Sarup said when asked for the government’s stand on demands of the states.
The “thematic groups” were gathering views “which may be complementary or different from that issue,” she added.

Addressing problems

During the day-long discussion, the states deliberated on 33 themes, outlined by the ministry, which largely sought suggestions for improving the over all quality of education, addressing the shortage of teachers, increasing the research outputs and providing vocational skills to students. Increase in the tuition fee of students at higher educational institutions and making education a profitable venture with some “safeguards” were few of the questions that were listed by the ministry for the states to ponder over and express their views.

An 83-page consultation paper, prepared by the HRD ministry, mooted questions like if “not for profit” education policy could be changed “with safeguards” for “better” public private partnership arrangements.

The Ministry’s next plan is to hold over 25 lakh consultation meetings at village level, 6,600 meetings at the block level, 626 at the district level and 3,500 meetings in urban local bodies, starting from panchayats later this month. The ministry seeks to complete the exercise by the end of this year.

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