Failure of ‘no-detention policy’ lies in flawed implementation: Experts

New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) The failure of the no-detention policy in schools across the country up to Class 8 is largely due to poor classroom teaching and monitoring of students, education experts say.

In the first meeting of the newly-reconstituted Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) chaired by Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on August 19, it recommended that the policy be scrapped since it adversely affected learning.

Harjeet Kaur Bhatia, Head of Department of Educational Studies (DES), Faculty of Education, Jamia Millia Islamia University, said that in spite of the no-detention policy having much merit, the major flaw lay in its implementation. The success depends on effective evaluation procedures and remedial action by teachers, Bhatia said.

“Actually, the no-detention policy and the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) go hand in hand. It calls for evaluation which is diagnostic, remedial and corrective in nature rather than being punitive or concerned with certification only,” Bhatia told IANS.

The central government has sought feedback from the state governments before taking a final call on the provision of the Right to Education (RTE) Act of 2009 under which no child can be failed till Class 8.

Bhatia, however, stressed on providing support to students to overcome their weaknesses or to build on their strengths.

“Education is not limited to the cognitive domain only. It also includes skills, attitudes and feelings. The evaluation system in schools does not look at students’ affective and psycho-motor domains of personality.”

“We have mere paper-pencil tests to evaluate a student. On top of this, the pass-fail policy contributes to creating differences and sections in students, which are not always healthy,” Bhatia said.

If the policy is to be implemented, it should be done in its true spirit and should not lead to a mockery of the education system, Bhatia said, adding: “I think there should be systemic changes and capacity building of teachers, administrators, parents and the like for its effective implementation.”

Leading educationists in the capital also said that the no-detention policy should not become a victim of the deteriorating quality of classroom teaching.

“Revoking (the policy) should be the last resort and a lot of discussion should take place before taking such a step. One of the worst things in life is failure. You can’t get out of it, you can’t, especially at a young age,” said Ameeta Mulla Wattal, chairperson of the National Progressive Schools’ Conference (NPSC), an umbrella body of 150 private schools in the city.

Wattal, who is also the principal of Springdales School at Pusa Road, said that if good teachers were around, there was no way students would not learn. “If a teacher is not able to teach, not able to motivate students, why should pupils become the victims? If we have good teachers, there is no way they can’t learn.”

She said emphasis should be laid on improving learning by enhancing the ability of teachers and designing a curriculum that is interesting and matches the skills of the pupils.

“If all efforts to improve a students’ academic performance are futile, only then should the concept of revoking be looked at,” Wattal maintained.

Some teachers, primarily in government schools, have asserted that doing away with exams that decided a student’s progression to the next class has led to a lackadaisical attitude towards studies and is responsible for the spike in dropout rate of students from schools after Class 8. Nearly 39 percent boys and 33 percent girls drop out of school after Class 8, as per official figures.

Delhi’s Government Schools Teacher’s Association (GSTA) president C.P. Singh said: “Poor parents rope in their wards to work with them, neglecting their studies, as they are confident that the students cannot be failed.”

The no-detention policy has led to “no fear” among children as well as parents, leading to deterioration of learning.

Singh said that because of the scheme the students have become “so careless” that they do not feel the “requirement of coming to schools” as they are confident that their names cannot be removed from the rolls.

“They (students) even challenge the teachers to fail them, even leaving their answer sheets blank, scoring zero,” Singh lamented.

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