Q. “No detention policy” (NDP) seriously needs a revisit. Comment.

What is wrong with the no-fail policy?
A section of teachers and parents have complained that this policy has led to students developing a lackadaisical attitude, with there being no risk of failing. They also say this system makes no distinction between good and bad students, and between those who work hard and those who don’t. Some states have demanded revocation of the policy, claiming this has led to a sharp fall in learning outcomes and academic levels.
About 70 per cent students of government schools in Chandigarh are set to repeat one more year in class IX as they failed to secure minimum 25 per cent marks in their summative assessment conducted in March. These children could not improve their score even after they were given two additional chances.

What has been the official view?
A sub-committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education on no-detention was constituted in 2012 under then Haryana Education Minister Geeta Bhukkal. The committee pitched for the return of detention in a phased manner. “We need to stop, re-assess and then move forward. At this stage, it would be prudent to reiterate the need for assessment of the learning outcomes, and make it consequential by linking it to promotion or otherwise to the next class beyond grade 5,” the committee said in its report.

The committee argued that this had led to a decline in learning outcomes. “Rather, the LLOs (Learning Level Outcomes) have steeply come down right from the academic sessions 2010-11 to 2013-14. The declining LLOs clearly reflect that there is something drastically wrong with the policy and system, which need to be remedied,” it said.

What is the HRD Ministry’s stand?
At a meeting of CABE — the top body advising the government on education — chaired by HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday, a broad consensus on scrapping the no-detention policy emerged. The Ministry has asked all states to give their views within 15 days, following which the process of making changes may begin.
How can these policies be reversed?
Revoking the no-detention policy will require an amendment to the RTE Act.

The much-awaited New Education Policy (NEP) was released by HRD Minister Smriti Irani earlier in June. The policy draft has been prepared by the TSR Subramanian Committee and includes several recommendations that need both debate and deliberations. One such is the revision of the “no detention policy” (NDP). This states that no child will be held back in any class until Class VII or be expelled from school till the completion of elementary education. It was implemented as part of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation in the Right to Education Act 2009.
The TSR committee recommends that NDP must apply only till class V, when the child will be 11 years old approximately. At the upper primary stage — that is after class V — the system of detention would be restored, subject to the provision of remedial coaching and at least two extra chances being offered to prove a child’s capability to move on to a higher class. The idea is that a student who is performing badly is given the scope to improve, but with a timeline.