No Detention Policy in Schools .............................
The quality of education particularly at the primary and the secondary levels, is of great significance for the overall development of the child. The policy of 'No Detention' is being used in India till the age of fourteen years for imparting the Right to Education (RTE) across the nation. The said policy is being criticised for resulting in poor learning levels amongst the students. The 64th meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on 25 October, 2016 dwelled into the question of scrapping the 'No Detention Policy'. The meeting was attended by the representatives of 28 states and union territories along with the heads of educational boards. The decision to review the working of the 'No Detention Policy' was taken by the Board following the requests by multiple states to scrap the flawed policy framework.
NO DETENTION POLICY
The 'No Detention Policy' is part of the educational framework which is being followed throughout the nation. It was done in pursuance of the Right to Education which is now a fundamental right of every citizen of India. The 91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 inserted the Article 21 A into the Constitution which provided the right to education to every child from six to fourteen years of age. The government passed the Right to Education Act, 2009 in order to provide statutory backing to the said Constitutional Amendment. The Section 16 of the Act provided that no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of the elementary education. The legal provision ensured that no student till the age of fourteen years could be made to repeat the class notwithstanding the grades he attains in the said class.
The policy of 'No Detention' was implemented in the nation from 2010 had the objective of ensuring no dropouts from the education system till the elementary level. It was adopted because of the fact that a major reason for the non-completion of the elementary education in India was the inability of the student to clear the yearly examination for the promotion to next standard. The system of examination was scrapped till the eighth class and a new Continuance and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) model was adopted. The CCE model compromised of various tests to be conducted every month with the division of the academic year into four terms. The marks are not allotted to the students, who were only given grades for their performance. The most important aspect of this system is that a student couldn't fail under the CCE system even if he attains the lowest grade. The new system laid stress on the training of the teachers to ensure fair evaluation and better understanding of the concepts. It was also in tune with the
global educational system where the emphasis is given on basic understanding and aptitude building, and not mere rote memorisation of the facts.
ANALYSIS OF 'NO DETENTION POLICY'
The Policy of not detaining a student till the elementary level has been in place from the past six years. But the system which was primarily aimed at addressing the problem of high dropout rate of students also suffers from grave discrepancies. It is being blamed for the poor learning levels amongst the students. The Report of CABE Subcommittee on the 'Assessment and Implementation of CCE and No Detention Provision' shows that the Policy is responsible for the declining learning levels due to the lack of assessment till the elementary level. The fact that examinations have been scrapped and a student cannot be detained due to poor academic performance has degraded the level of education. It has also culminated in low motivation levels amongst the students. The healthy competition between the pupils have been stifled by it. The children have not real incentive for working harder for better marks. The report also blames the policy for low accountability of teachers especially in the state owned schools. It has been seen that the teachers in various schools particularly in the rural areas, don't teach the students at all due to no fear of their result being subjected to the scrutiny of examinations and being reprimanded for poor results of their students.
The various academics have pointed out that the system is the root cause of the poor quality of elementary education in the nation. They argue that the system has led to lack of pedagogy in the schools due to teachers being absent from the classrooms. The main requirement of the CCE model was to have specially trained teachers to enhance the learning process. But the government has failed to train the teachers and the pedagogues have also adopted a lacklustre approach towards the system. The intellectuals have urged the need to recognise and reward the high performing students for enhancing learning levels and basic understanding of concepts.
REVIEW OF POLICY BY THE GOVERNMENT
During the recent meeting of CABE, the discussion on the scrapping of the 'No Detention Policy' took place. The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javdekar who presided over the meeting said that the Centre is looking to amend the Right to Education Act, 2009 to grant the power to the respective state governments to decide about the abolition of the system. Another important decision taken at the meeting was about the codification of the learning outcomes and to include them in the RTE rules for equitable evaluation throughout the nation. The decision is being seen as part of the Union Government plan to introduce 'New Education Policy' in the nation to address the problems of poor learning levels and lack of basic understanding even at the secondary levels. The views of the various states were taken into account and decision to grant the freedom to the provincial governments was taken in order to cater to the sentiments of the state governments.
The decision to grant freedom to the state governments as regards the scrapping of 'No Detention Policy' was in league with the recommendations of the T.S.R. Subramanium Committee which was formed by the government to suggest reforms in the education sector. The Committee in its June 2016 report highlighted the glaring lacunae in the existing system which have led to the deterioration of the quality of education that is being imparted to the 33 crore students till the elementary level. The recommendations included that the 'No Detention Policy' should be continued till the class V. But for the upper elementary level, the Committee suggested that the system of detention should be restored subject to the remedial coaching for the weaker students. It also sought for two extra chances for the students to clear the examination for reaching the next standard. It also advocated the option of the on-demand examination for the higher classes. The proposed amendments are being seen as vital panacea for the ailing education system in which the students suffered from poor communication and learning abilities.
The Union Government has recently decided to give the freedom to the state governments to decide as regards the scrapping the 'No Detention Policy'. The policy has led to dismal learning skills and low accountability of the teachers towards the students. The step is seen as a starting point for the introduction of the 'New Education Policy' for improving the elementary education level. The abolition of the policy will help in addressing the problem of poor understanding levels and will foster healthy competition amongst the students. It will also prepare the students for the tougher entrance examinations which they need to face after the senior secondary level in order to secure admission into colleges. The need of the hour is to change that present system of No Detention for the benefit of the pupils and lay stress on basic understanding of concepts in order to train the students for tougher challenges ahead in their lives.