Private schools are not sure how to decide on students' promotion and detention hence. While the Right To Education Act that came into effect in April enables children to continue education till class VIII irrespective of their academic performance, more clarity from the Education Department would help, school heads observe.
A Madras High Court judgment earlier this month, directing a private school in Chennai to promote a boy to class VII following a petition challenging his detention, has prompted schools to take a deeper look into the issue.
Pass all students up to V
Chitra Prasad, Correspondent and Principal, NSN Matriculation School, says, “For the academic year 2009-10, we did not receive any Government Order on the detention policy to be followed. Earlier, we were told that we had to pass all students up to class V.”
However, in the case of a few students in classes VI to IX, who had failed, the school faced enormous pressure from officials. “Though there was no official circular, we kept getting calls and recommendation letters asking us to promote a few students.”
Interestingly, the school also encountered a case of a parent giving it to them in writing that his son should be detained in class VI. “The child had scored quite low and the parent felt he would be better off repeating the class as ‘Samacheer Kalvi' was also coming into effect for classes I and VI. So we detained the child.”
Till now, the issue of promotion or detention was very subjective and school-specific. Now that Right To Education Act has come into effect, all schools will have to ensure that children are not detained till class VIII.
“Till now, schools in different districts have been getting different instructions on detention from the officials. Now that we have the Act, it is important that clear, uniform instructions be given,” Ms. Prasad says.
N. Vijayan, General Secretary, Federation of Matriculation Schools' Associations in Tamil Nadu, says that according to a circular that matriculations schools received earlier, they were expected to promote all children up to class V.
“But for all students, there was a provision which allowed them to take a retest if they scored between 25 and 35 per cent.”
No official communication
On whether there was any official communication on the implementation of the provisions of the Right To Education Act, Mr. Vijayan said there was none yet.
In case of CBSE schools, school heads maintain that largely, a no-detention policy is being followed over the years.
“Unless it was a student whose performance was consistently poor for over three, four years, students usually got promoted,” says G. Neelakantan, Principal, Sivaswami Kalalaya Senior Secondary School.
“When it comes to detention, we have to ask the question ‘Will the detention help?'
Just because the child is of a particular age, it does not mean that he or she is ready for a particular class. What if a child cannot cope genuinely,” he asks.