Parliamentary panel for removing ‘No Detention Policy’, common guidelines for states

NEW DELHI: The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development has backed the governments proposal to abolish the ‘no detention policy’ in schools. In its 300th report on the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017 tabled in both Houses of Parliament, the panel has recommended allowing states their discretion in deciding about detaining a student in class 5 or or class 8 or in both classes, or not to detain in any class till the completion of elementary education.

However, it has asked the Central government to issue common guidelines to the states vis-a-vis detention of a child.

“The Committee feels that learning of children must be assessed through examinations in classes 5 and 8. The Committee accordingly, welcomes the proposed amendment in clause 2(1) providing for regular examination in class fifth and eighth at the end of every academic year and hopes that learning of children would improve considerably in future,” it said in its report.

It observed that with the enactment of RTE Act, initially the focus was on “quantitative expansion” of education but while doing so the “quality aspects of teaching and learning” were relegated to the backburner.

“This has led us to a situation which necessitates the review of the Act. It is a fact which cannot any longer be ignored. The National Council of Education Research and Training’s (NCERT) National Achievement Survey or Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) have consistently revealed the abysmally low learning levels among school children. It is a cause of serious concern for the Committee,” the panel said in its report.

It said that with the no detention policy, there is no pressure on the children to learn and on the teachers to teach and therefore, there was a need for policy change so as to improve the learning of children at elementary stage of education.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 11, 2017 and referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development by Rajya Sabha Chairman in consultation with the Speaker, Lok Sabha on August 22, 2017 for examination and Report.

The Bill seeks to substitute Section 16 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 which provides that no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education.

This Bill provides for a regular examination in classes 5 and 8 and if the child fails, he shall be given additional opportunity for re-examination in two months time.

IT also empowers the state/union territory governments to hold a child in class 5 and 8 or either of them or not to hold in any class until elementary education is completed.

The Committee said that it would be “appropriate” if the states/UTs are allowed to take a decision as per their circumstances and needs as “there are diversities amongst states/UTs”.

It pointed out that only six states/UTs desired that the no detention provision may be retained and the majority of states/UTs desired either its modification, review or withdrawal.

“The Committee, however, suggests that common guidelines may also be issued to all states/UTs with respect to detention of a child,” it said.