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Shipra Suri, Hindustan Times
Ludhiana, April 03, 2011
No child from Class 1 to 8 in Punjab will fail irrespective of how poorly he or she fares in exams - as under the Right To Education (RTE) Act it has become a mandatory to pass all students upto middle class. Punjab education secretary C Roul has issued a directive in this regard to all district education officers (DEOs) 
According to Schedule 16 of the RTE Act, every student has the right to basic primary education, and the state government is enforcing this in schools.

Though the state government believes this will increase the literacy rate and benefit unprivileged students, many educationists and parents feel it would further lower the standard of education in government schools. 

Although the no-fail policy is meant to get students enthused about learning rather than simply excelling in exams, parents and school authorities feel the policy may not work on the ground.

Some teachers believe that children will now be promoted without any qualitative check on whether they have understood what's being taught in class "There are 10 students of Class 7 in my school who have either failed or even scored zero in their exams this year," a teacher from a government senior secondary school at Ferozepur Road in Ludhiana said. “But we have to give them the passing grade.”

Educationist Balwinder Singh said the standard of education was “not upto the mark” in most government schools, and this move would only lower it. He said as it is students from government schools lagged behind in college. “Students who are careless will now be in more casual about their work.”

Rajinder Sharma, president of the association of Punjab School Education Board-affiliated schools, said students who do not "deserve to be promoted" will find it difficult to cope with the syllabus of Class 10 and 12 and the competitive exams that follow. 

Parents are also unsure about how the policy would benefit students. "A student of Class 2 or Class 3 doesn't understand what the no-fail policy means," said Hema Kumari, a parent of Abhishek, a class 3 student.

"But as they grow older and get familiar with the policy, their reaction might be negative. Learning to deal with failure is incredibly important in life."

However, Punjab education minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan, who has himself been a teacher, said the policy was being implemented in accordance with the central RTE Act to ensure that no child in the state is deprived of primary education.

"The main motto of this policy is to make every poor student educated," the minister said. "Once a student fails, parents (from underprivileged backgrounds) don't make them study further. Many students drop out after failing." 

He said there was need to change the mindset that lays a lot of emphasis on "passing and failing", and the new policy was a step in that direction.

Sekhwan said the no-fail rule would not lower standards of education. "I have already told the DEOs to ensure that every teacher gives attention to students," he said.

"Monthly and quarterly exams will be held to identify students who are under-performing, and we will give them special attention."