Why the government should not scrap the no-detention policy
By scrapping the no-detention policy, the State will not just delete a clause. It will deliver a body blow to the RTE.editorials Updated: May 31, 2018 07:41 IST
The end of May is time for board results in India. While it is an occasion to celebrate individual brilliance and success, this is also an opportunity to see how the State school system is faring. While Delhi’s State-run schools did well in the Central Board of Secondary Education Class 12 examinations this year, the dismal results of State-run school students in the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education (HPBoSE) are a stark reminder that there are severe flaws in the education system Out of 3,000 government schools across the state, not a single student has passed the Class 10 and Class 12 board examination in 55 government schools. Result such as these should lead to serious introspection. Instead, the call for scrapping the no-detention policy will only become shriller. The bring-back-examination group will not lose time in linking such results to the fact that these students moved up to Class 10 and Class 12 without being tested, thanks to the Right to Education Act that currently does not allow schools to detain students between classes 5 and 8, and consequently their failure to cross the final hurdle. In fact, the NDA government is planning to introduce a bill in the Parliament soon to scrap the no-detention clause.
By scrapping the no-detention policy, the State will not just delete a clause. It will deliver a body blow to the RTE. The scrapping will also mean that the State is blaming students (many of who are first-generation learners) for their failure to learn in class. But the State needs to answer one important question: Did it provide the right resources for a child to learn? Did it invest enough in teacher training, pedagogy, textbooks, learning materials to make education a “joyful exercise”, as the Act states? Was a rational deployment of teachers done and a specified pupil-teacher ratio maintained in schools?
The other point to note is that CCE does not mean no evaluation. It’s an evaluation of a different kind from the traditional system of examinations. In fact, several committees set up by the Government of India — the Kothari Commission (1966), the National Policy of Education (1986) and the Yashpal Committee Report (1993) — found the existing system of examination problematic since it increases the load and stress on young children. Further, it tends to be textbook centric and does not capture the potential and natural learning behaviour of different types of learners; nor does it make allowances for different learning environments. If CCE failed to make a mark, it is not because of the students’ inability to learn, but because several other requirements were not in place.
The debate on the no-detention policy takes away the focus from the larger challenges that plague the education system, the critical one being an acceptance that there is a fundamental difference between effective teaching and rote teaching. Bringing back school examinations for children will not fix the problem.