Seeing the dwindling quality of education in Punjab, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has asked the Prime Minister to let his state go back to the system of board examinations in Classes 5 and 8.
The CM has written to Narendra Modi for urgent amendment to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, and doing away with promoting children to higher classes without any test at the elementary and middle levels. He sent this letter last week on the recommendation of Punjab education minister Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, who had asked for examination system from Classes 1 to 8.
The RTE Act says that no child should be held back in any class or expelled from school until the completion of elementary education. They are also not required to face any examination until then. "The no-detention policy coupled with no compulsion to attend school regularly has declined the standard of stage-specific learning in Punjab," Badal wrote in his two-page letter to Modi, adding: "These two provisions of the RTE Act are allowing non-serious, non-performing students to advance to the next level with wide learning deficit. This is also vitiating the learning atmosphere in schools."
On July 18 last year, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha had passed a unanimous resolution to ask the Union government to amend the RTE Act so that the state could reintroduce board examinations for middle and elementary students and examination system from Classes 1 to 8. "For the bright future of Punjab," stated the resolution. State education minister Dr Cheema told HT that education was a state subject guided by the central Act.
"According to the central Act, we can neither subject student to examination nor hold them back if they are not performing in elementary class. We can't expel them if they continue to be absent from school. Under these circumstances, how do we improve the quality of education in the state when it does not even test the efficiency of teachers?" said Dr Cheema.
Former Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal, who is National Board of Examination (NBE) chairperson, is reported to have sought a copy of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha resolution of last year to be able to push for the amendment to the RTE Act for the reintroduction of examinations at the elementary level in Haryana.