RTE amendment Bill passed in Lok Sabha, no-detention policy set to fail

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act to abolish the “no-detention” policy in schools. No student can be detained up to class VIII under current provisions of the Act.

Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill amends the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The Act was having the provision of no detention policy i.e. no child can be held back in any class until completion of elementary school (classes 1-8).

The Bill amends provision related to no detention policy in the parent Act to empower central or state government to allow schools to hold back the child in class 5, class 8, or in both classes. It mandates conducting, regular examination in class 5 and class 8 at end of every academic year.

In case, the child fails class 5, class 8 examinations, he will be given additional instruction and opportunity for a re-examination (within two months from the declaration of the result). If the child fails again in re-examination, he may be held back in class 5, class 8, or in both classes.

The Bill empowers Union and State governments to decide whether to not hold back the child in any class till completion of elementary education. Further, Union or State governments will decide manner and conditions subject to which child may be held back.

According to this provision, “no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class”. This translates into automatic promotions to the next class every year until Class VII. Instead of exams, schools are supposed to hold Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluations (CCE) for every child.

Criticism:

The provision had attracted criticism with several states and schools complaining that it compromised on academic rigor and learning levels and quality at schools.

The TSR Subramanian committee for the formulation of the National Policy on Education has also suggested that ‘no detention’ policy should be discontinued after Class V. It had recommended restoration of detention provision, remedial coaching and two extra chances to each student such to move to a higher class.

A sub-committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education also studied the issue closely and recommended a provisional detention clause at Classes V and VIII. In 2013, a parliamentary panel had also asked the ministry to ‘rethink’ on its “policy of automatic promotion up to Class VIII”.

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