Limiting No-Detention Policy : HRD Ministry gets backing from Law Ministry

No country can ignore education, particularly if around 65% of its population is the youth.

“Revise the ‘No Detention Policy’ and start the pass-fail system from Class VI in schools located across the country is the latest notification in the much debated “No-Detention Policy” and talks of having it only till class V. This is so because the Ministry of Law has cleared the proposal by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development. The Law Ministry has approved amendments required in the Right to Education (RTE) Act for the change.

In a note sent to the HRD Ministry on December 24, the Law Ministry has endorsed the amendments needed to the Right To Education (RTE) Act to implement the change. Under the current no-fail provision, Section 16 of the Right to Education Act, the schools are prohibited from detaining or expelling any student up to Class VIII. The “no detention” policy was passed in 2010 with all good intentions, but it is adversely affecting the children in many ways. It is affecting their education and their all-round development.

For amending the RTE Act, the Law Ministry has suggested the HRD Ministry to keep a draft bill ready through the legislative department. As per the no-fail provision, none of the students can be detained or expelled until the completion of elementary education. Making a child repeat a class, because of failing, was considered demotivating. Children often dropped out of school and abandoned school learning altogether.

At the 59th meeting of the Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE) held in 2012 and chaired by the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal, the states formally voiced their dissent saying schools were reporting huge failure rates in Class IX. To this, the ministry replied that ‘no detention’ provision is made because examinations are often used for eliminating children who obtain poor marks. Once declared ‘fail’, children either repeat the grade or leave the school altogether. Compelling a child to repeat a class is demotivating and discouraging.

The ministry set up a sub-committee headed by then Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal to look into their concerns. The panel submitted a report in 2014. It observed that the policy had raised the challenge of motivating students and teachers and affected “the drive to excel or perform”. A phased out roll back of the no-detention policy was advised but because of a change in the government it was not put through.

In the year 2015, a panel constituted by the Ministry decided to go for the review of no-detention policy after appeals by several states to revive the pass-fail system. The panel deliberated on the negative impact of the no-detention policy on the academic performance of students and focused on concerns raised by state governments over huge failure rates in Class IX when children had to finally appear for an exam.

In the feedback thus received, 22 state governments wrote back, out of which a majority of 18, including Delhi, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana sought a review of the policy. Only Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka were in favour of it. Rajasthan and Delhi have also passed Bills to reverse the no-detention policy, these are waiting for the governor’s assent. Recently, Madhya Pradesh government also revoked the no-detention policy.

In the 64th annual meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held in New Delhi on October 25, it was decided that no child will be failed till Class 5. Further the states will have the final say on whether they want to hold back students beyond that. It has also been agreed that the Central Government may bring in suitable amendment which will give States the freedom to review the ‘No Detention Policy’. This is so because many states have opposed this provision complaining that the level of learning has come down because of this provision.

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