No-Detention Policy In The Schools – Should it be scrapped?

No-Detention policy in IndiaAs per the current education system in India, all the students up till Class 8 will automatically be promoted to next class. No one can be failed as per the Right to Education Act. This is known as the ‘No-Detention Policy‘.

An expert committee headed by T S R Subramanian set up to formulate the new National Education Policy had last year recommended that the ‘No-Detention Policy’ be reviewed and exams are held from Class VI. Recently, Union Cabinet has approved the scrapping of the no-detention policy in schools till Class VIII.

In this article, we discuss if the no-detention policy should be scrapped from the next academic year. Has the no-detention policy negatively impacted the quality of basic education in the country? Let’s see.

What is ‘No-Detention’ policy?

  • As per the No-Detention Policy under the Right to Education Act, no student can be failed or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education covering classes 1 to 8. All the students up till Class 8 will automatically be promoted to next class.
  • The essence of the policy is that children should not be ‘failed’ and detained up to Class 8. There are no “examinations” in the narrow traditional sense of the word up to Class 8. Instead, the Act mandates a process of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) to assess and evaluate the student’s learning.

The Right To Education (RTE) Act

  • The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine.
  • It means that every child has a right to full-time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.
  • It came into effect on 1 April 2010.

The RTE Act provides for:

  • Every child in the age group of 6-14 has the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school, till the completion of elementary education.
  • Private schools will have to take 25% of their class strength from the weaker section and the disadvantaged group of the society through a random selection process. The government will fund the education of these children.
  • No donation and capitation fee is allowed.
  • No admission test or interview either for child or parents.
  • No child can be held back, expelled and required to pass the board examination till the completion of elementary education.
  • There is provision for the establishment of commissions to supervise the implementation of the act.
  • A fixed student and teacher ratio is to be maintained.
  • All schools have to adhere to rules and regulations laid down in this act, failing which the school will not be allowed to function. Three years moratorium period has been provided to school to implement all that is required of them.
  • Norms for teachers training and qualifications are also clearly mentioned in the act.
  • All schools except private unaided schools are to be managed by School Management Committees with 75% of parents and guardians as members.

Why is the No-Detention Policy reconsidered?

  • Various states, including Delhi, have raised serious objections against the no-detention policy, citing it as a reason of high failure and dropouts in classes 9 and 10.
  • Also, it is criticized that due to no-detention policy, students do not focus much on education as they already have it in their mindset that they will be promoted to the next class even if they don’t perform well.

What is the new proposal?

When the no-detention policy is scrapped, an enabling provision will be made in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Amendment Bill which will allow states to detain students in class 5 and class 8 if they fail in the year-end exam.

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Reasons why ‘no-detention policy’ is criticized

  1. Negative impact on the standard of education: Most of the schools in interior places are running without any teachers. Hence, if the ‘no-detention policy’ continues, it will leave a negative impact on the standard of education in India and force the children to face more harsh future.
  2. No reward for hard work: This policy has led to students developing a lackadaisical attitude, with there being no risk of failing. It also makes no distinction between good and bad students, and between those who work hard and those who don’t. Thus it makes no effective way to implement a good level of teaching and learning.
  3. Apathy from teachers: With the policy in place, the Education Department does not take steps to revamp itself and the teachers do not take the pain to ensure a good education for the children.
  4. Dark future of students: Students coming from poor economic background face problem in their coming life because of no good education in the schools.
  5. Will affect the women empowerment programs: The girls especially will face a major problem if not getting a proper education in the schools.
  6. Zero academic outcomes: If no merit is checked while giving promotion to another class, the children will never learn the importance of studying and acquiring knowledge. It will lead to a poor academic outcome in classes.

Reasons why ‘no-detention policy’ is supported

Stemming dropouts from the schools due to peer pressure was the main reason the Right to Education Act included the no-detention provision. If it is reversed, many students would stop going to schools when they fail.

  1. The section 29 (2) (h) of the RTE Act makes a comprehensive and continuous evaluation (CCE) mandatory, wherein schools are expected to use test results to improve teaching and learning of the child. Unlike traditional board examinations, the CCE visualises evaluation as a diagnostic tool to improve learning. So scrapping the policy is not a solution, in fact, it should be modified and corrected. (Reference: Wikipedia)
  2. If a student is made to repeat a grade, there’s a strong chance he or she will discontinue learning. Also, there is no research which establishes that repeating a year helps children perform better. In fact, not much burden helps the child not to take studies as a burden.
  3. There can be modifications such as – each school should conduct exams to ascertain which student is weak in what subject. If the child is weak, the school should take additional classes or special coaching.

What is the stand of various states in this regard?

No-Detention policy

All States/UTs were asked to share their views on the No-Detention policy. 28 States have shared their views on the No Detention policy out of which 23 States have suggested a modification to the No Detention policy.  (Reference: PIB)

Will scrapping the no-detention policy solve all problems?

  • Flawed teachers’ training (the eye of many scams), social indifference to the plight of school teachers, rampant use of ad hoc teachers in small towns and villages, etc. have all substantively contributed to a failing school system. Only scrapping the policy is not going to drastically improve the standard of education in the country.
  • According to some educationists, the policy was wrongly interpreted to create an environment in which the significance of evaluating a school-goer’s learning outcomes was undermined. Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), that aimed to assess the child’s understanding of what was being taught in class at periodic intervals, proved to be a non-starter in many schools. The policy alone cannot be blamed for poor results.
  • The teachers were not given adequate training to undertake this reform. They had no idea of what was to be evaluated, and how. In several schools, CCE was reduced to “project work”, which parents resented. The RTE’s provisions regarding the upgrading of school infrastructure and an increase in the teacher-student ratio — that would have created an enabling environment for the policy — were given a short shrift. Hence, the poor performance can be linked to a variety of other factors rather than just the no detention policy.

Way ahead

  • The phenomenon of poor learning outcomes is the product of many factors which influence learning, and should not be conveniently pinned to the door of the no-detention policy. The steps that can be taken to improve learning outcomes can be:
    • measuring learning level outcomes of all children on a regular basis,
    • catalysing a “performance-driven culture” and rewarding high performers at every level,
    • changing stakeholders’ mindset and preparing them for new provisions, in which parents were made responsible or accountable for full attendance of their children.
  • The policy should be implemented in a phased manner and a scale-up to all classes should be undertaken only after the critical infrastructural, teacher strength and teachers’ skill-set requirements were fully met.


No-Detention policy in schools

  • Rather than addressing the core issues that affect the quality of education in the country, the entire focus seems to be shifting to bring back the pass/fail model.
  • A greater level of seriousness on all sides is the need of the hour. It is high time steps are taken to remove the other flaws that exist.
  • Hence, the policy should either be renovated with adequate changes to neutralize the ill effects or replaced with a new policy that would take a balanced approach. The prime objective should be to effect an all-round development of children and equipping them with life skills.

Article by: Pooja Chaudhary

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