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Assam divided on no-detention policy in schools

TO FAIL OR NOT TO FAIL

STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, July 19: A day after the Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act to abolish the “no-detention” policy in schools, Assam has seen divided opinions on the issue.

As per the amendment, it will be left to States to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy in schools or not. The no-detention policy, part of the RTE Act, 2009, mandated the annual promotion of all children from Classes I to VIII regardless of academic performance. Several stakeholders have claimed the policy negatively impacted the performance of students.

An official in the State Education department said even though it is too early to comment on the issue, the present regime at Dispur is likely to scrap the existing no-detention policy in schools. Cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who was holding the education portfolio till April this year, opposed the no-detention policy and intimated the Union Human Resource Development ministry about his view, he said Sangeeta Devi, a teacher at a government upper primary school said the no-detention policy has to be scrapped for the sake of quality education.

“Many students come to my school only to have midday meal. They are not at all serious about learning and their parents are not bothered about also. But at the end of the academic year we have to promote these students to another class despite their poor academic performance,” she said. On other hand, Inamul Haq, a senior teacher at a leading private school quoting a study by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad said the no-detention policy in schools, which is now being scrapped, has done less harm to learning than it is accused of.

“Implementation of the no-detention policy has not systematically lowered the learning levels of students. It has done less harm than it is accused of,” says the study, titled “To Fail or Not to Fail?” and submitted to a parliamentary standing committee and the panel drafting the country’s new education policy.

The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre introduced an amendment bill in Parliament to allow States to detain a child at the end of Class V, Class VIII, or both. The Lok Sabha passed the Bill on Wednesday. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) without giving any comment on the issue however said that the Union will oppose any move to harm students’ interest and compromise on quality education.