No detention policy has hit quality of education

Sunday Guardian Live | 17 September 2016

A PIL had maintained that the policy is being misinterpreted, leading to a dismal education system in government schools.

The No Detention Policy (NDP) introduced by the then UPA government under the Right to Education Act 2009 has led to a fall in the quality of education in government schools, according to education experts.

The ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) report of 2014 says that less than 50% of the students of Class V, enrolled in government schools, could even read a Standard II textbook, and over 40% of the students in Standards II and III did not recognise numbers till 100. It does not end there. Around 56% of the students in Standard VIII failed to complete simple division, while 50% of  Standard V students failed to even do simple subtraction.

“Close to half of all children will finish eight years of schooling, but still not have learned basic skills in arithmetic. Special focus, time and attention are needed to help children from Standard III-VIII to learn the basic and foundational skills,” the report said.

Lata Vaidyanathan, former principal of Modern School, Barakhamba Road, told The Sunday Guardian, “The No Detention Policy is not at all helping the students. In fact, when students are being put to serious examinations in Class IX, they stumble. However, up to the primary education level (till Class V), the policy could be accepted to a certain extent, provided objective teaching and learning outcomes are achieved and are well defined and understood by the primary schools. Beyond that, the policy will impact the learning outcome and quality of education.”

She further said that teachers should “hand-hold the students” from VI through remedial teaching and assimilating what is being taught in classrooms for better results from students.

The Delhi government’s CHUNAUTI report of 2016 shows that there has been a sharp decline in the percentage of students passing Standard IX examinations since 2014. According to the report, 49% of the students studying in Standard IX in Delhi government schools have failed in 2016, which has been an increase of 5% from the 2014 results. The Delhi government has asserted that the No Detention Policy has been one of the top reasons for this mass failure in Standard IX along with years of “accumulated learning deficit”.

A principal from one of the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas in Delhi, who did not wish to be named, told this newspaper, “In our schools, the results have not been that dismal, but yes, in other schools there have been problems with Class IX students failing in huge numbers. It is because of the failure in effective implementation of the RTE Act in its true spirit. The teachers are supposed to conduct regular assessments of students, they need to make students learn, but they often shun their responsibility.” Recently, the Centre for Civil Society, a non-profit think tank based in Delhi, had filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court, saying that the NDP is being “misinterpreted” in government schools and this is leading to a “dismal education system” in government schools.

Prashant Naranag, a lawyer for the Centre for Civil Society who has filed the petition, said,  “The ASER survey has showed how poorly government schools have performed and it is because of the misinterpretation of the RTE Act. Section 8 clause (g) of the RTE Act says that good quality education needs to be provided to all children. Section 24 (c) also says that the teacher is to complete the entire curriculum within the specified time, while clause (d) says that the teacher needs to assess the learning ability of each child and accordingly supplement additional instructions, if any, as required. But these are not being followed by many schools and thus the students lack basic foundational skills.”

The Delhi High Court has taken cognizance of the matter and has issued notice to the Directorate of Eduaction, Delhi government, to the MCDs and NDMC as they run the primary schools in Delhi and has kept the matter for next hearing on 28 November this year.

The Ministry for Human Resource Development is also thinking of doing away with the No Detention Policy and the Draft National Education Policy 2016 has also recommended doing away with the policy.

Read this news on Sunday Guardian Live website.