The Lok Sabha on Wednesday 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.
As per the amendment, it would be left to states to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar told the House while replying to the debate on The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (second amendment) Bill, 2017.
“We have to rebuild our education system, which is (at present) broken,” he said.
Javadekar said many students have moved from private schools to government schools in some states, such as Sikkim, Kerala and Telangana.
“Teacher training, quality and accountability are most important,” he said. Stating that there is no shortage of teachers, the minister said their deployment is not right.
Moving the Bill in Lok Sabha, Javadekar said, “It is a very important legislation and a majority of state governments supported this proposal. It brings accountability in our elementary education system.”
Referring to the no-detention policy in the Act, he said, “Schools have become only schools for mid-day meal, as education and learning are missing.”
This Bill has been analysed by a Parliamentary standing committee, which also recommended bringing back the concept of detention in schools, Javadekar said. The policy had been brought back as it was felt that compelling children to repeat a class was demotivating, often forcing them to abandon school, he said.
This Bill, Javadekar said, provides for regular examination in classes V and VIII, and if a child fails, there is a provision to give her or him additional opportunity to take a re-examination within two months.
Congress member K C Venugopal said the proposed legislation lacks “clarity”. He also demanded a hike in allocation for the Centre’s flagship Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan programme.
BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said the Centre should form uniform guidelines for conducting examinations and leave it to states on how the exams should be conducted.
Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena and Saugata Roy of TMC lent support to the Bill. Sawant asked the government to focus on primary education. Praising Javadekar’s “non-confrontationist” approach, Roy said children often do not study if there are no exams. He said the education system is currently in a bad shape and learning outcomes were going down due to the non-detention policy.
Supriya Sule of NCP also supported the Bill and said introduction of exams is necessary.