Abu Baker Khan is a worried man. His daughter, a student of Alexandra Girls’ School at Fort, failed in her Class 8 exams and has been asked to repeat the year when the term starts in June. “She failed by a single mark,” said Khan.
But when Khan heard that the Maharashtra government had, under the Right To Education (RTE) Act enacted on April 1, declared that no student could be failed up to Class 8, he contacted the school. “The school authorities refused to accept this,” said an exasperated Khan. “They say it should come to them officially and that they would call us, but they haven’t done that so far.”
The government’s order, dated May 10, stated that schools should promote all students up to Class 8 to the next class. But parents like Khan, whose children have been kept back, rather than rejoicing, are worried that schools won’t implement the order.
A suburban school student’s father, who requested anonymity, was at his wit’s end.
In April, his daughter was asked to repeat Class 6. “The school refused to talk to us or meet us. I can’t keep fighting it,” he said. He claimed the school said it could not act until it received a notification from the state education board.
He is in the process of withdrawing his daughter from the school and seeking admission elsewhere.
Basanti Roy, a former state board official, said the government should act now that the policy is out. “It’s a very encouraging step and a relief for students, but the government should ensure it is implemented properly,” she said.
As part of the same rule, schools also need to continuously evaluate students rather than expect them to pass a single year-end exam. Parents are thrilled. “I love it, what a great idea!” said Sanjita Prasad. “Children don’t get a chance to be kids with all the testing and evaluation; there’s no need for so much pressure.”
The government directive aims to ease the pressure on students. It hopes to avoid student suicides such as that by Shams Merchant (14), a Class 7 student, who hanged himself at his Millat Nagar residence on April 29 after learning he had failed for the second time in the same class.
The government plans to draw up an action plan to identify weak students, and impart special training to teachers to tackle such students. This clause means that every teacher will pay extra attention to those students who are slow in class.
Students with learning disabilities or other problems will be evaluated separately and the evaluation process will be continuous to keep an update of their performance throughout the year.