EVEN AS the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has asked all state governments to submit reply on whether the ‘no-detention’ policy should stay or not, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the state was in favour of no detention but with riders. He said the policy should not be misconstrued with “no assessments” or “no relevance of assessments” and that schools had been instructed to test children at least twice every year.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Tawde said if a student failed even after putting in special efforts, he or she should be asked to repeat the class. According to the no-detention policy, all students should pass till Class VIII.
“If the no-detention policy is being interpreted as a no tests policy by schools and other stakeholders, it is very bad. We have passed a circular where we have insisted that each school should conduct exams to ascertain which student is weak in what subject. If the child is weak, the school needs to take additional classes or special coaching. But even after taking proper efforts, if the student fails then he or she should be asked to repeat (class). If a student is repeatedly failing, we need to look at counselling and see what can be taught to the child to help him or her,” said Tawde.
During the 63rd meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held earlier this week, there was a broad consensus at the meeting, with state governments being ‘unequivocal’ in suggesting that the no-detention policy be revoked. “Education ministers, representatives of the states and CABE members unanimously agreed on the need to do so. However, the Government of India proposed that state governments should formally provide their views, in writing, within 15 days, to the HRD ministry, which would consider the next steps based on these recommendations,” said an MHRD release on August 19.
Tawde added that if the no-detention policy had to be revoked, it would require an amendment to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
In June this year, the state government had issued a circular saying it was the school management’s responsibility to ensure progress and development of students. It had said the learning capacity, achievement and progress of a student should be measured from time to time by conducting tests.
“We will abide by law and whatever decision is finally taken. However, the Maharashtra government has already found a way how children can learn under this policy of no detention, which is good for the children. We have asked schools to test them and the aim of conducting the test should be to check the progress and learning ability of a student and further improving it. Also, we have had groups of schools who had started the no-detention policy in 2004 in the state, way before the RTE Act was implemented, and they have been successful in their efforts. So unless you are mentally prepared for such a policy, you will not succeed,” said Nand Kumar, Principal Secretary, School Education.
The state circular also said a comparison would be done of the overall achievement through a state learning achievement survey. It will also be the responsibility of the school principal and teachers to ensure that students come to school regularly, with the help of the school management committee. It will be necessary to achieve the level of expected achievement set for the academic year, which implies that it will be mandatory for students, both under-achievers and achievers, to reach the expected level set.
An earlier report of a CABE sub-committee on “assessment and implementation of CCE and no detention provision (under RTE Act 2009)” had said the no-detention policy was implementable in an “ideal system” but the current education system faced significant challenges, thus rendering this policy difficult to implement for all grades with immediate effect. The sub-committee had recommended measuring learning level outcomes of all children on a regular basis, catalysing a “performance-driven culture” and rewarding high performers at every level, changing stakeholders’ mindset and preparing them for new provisions, in which parents were made responsible or accountable for full attendance of their children. It had also mooted that the policy should be implemented in a phased manner and a scale-up to all classes should be undertaken only after the critical infrastructural, teacher strength and teachers’ skill-set requirements were fully met.