The suicide of a Class 9 student in Trombay, allegedly owing to academic pressure, has restarted the debate about the no-fail policy of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
In 2010, the RTE Act declared that no child can be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education (from Class 1 to Class 8). “The no-fail policy destroys the habit of regular studying among students till Class 8, and the pressure builds up in Class 9 in anticipation of the board exams,” said Anjana Prakash, principal, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri.
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty agrees. “Class 9 has turned into a pressure cooker for students because of the no-fail policy. The shift to a competitive environment after Class 8 can put a lot of pressure,” he said.
Counsellors said subjects such as mathematics often create fear in the minds of students. “Students and parents should realise that performance in science or maths does not mean the child is poor in academics. Parents should identify children’s aptitude in other subjects and guide them towards a suitable career,” said Dr Niyati Chitalia, a counsellor in Dadar.
Counsellors said it is important to identify signs of depression promptly. “Teachers and parents should spot signs such as lack of focus, poor social skills and low confidence early on,” said Shilpa Sharma, counselling psychologist, St Francis D’Assisi High School, Borivli.