The first draft of the new education policy (NEP) by the eight-member committee headed by Dr. Kasturirangan, is expected to be released by the end of December after a prolonged delay. The scrapping of the no-detention policy (NDP) where ‘‘no child shall be required to pass any Board examination till completion of elementary education,” is another debatable topic.
According to Angela Taneja, Director, Education, CARE India, “The scrapping of no-detention policy will penalise students for the shortcomings of the education system where even basic requirements such as quality education, skilled teachers and proper monitoring are not being provided. In such a scenario, if the no-detention policy is scrapped, it will only increase the rate of school dropouts, while violating the Right to Education for children.”
According to the Geeta Bhukkal Committee, the first batch of students who passed class VIII without detention, wrote their class X exams in the academic year 2012-13. The pass percentage in CBSE schools was 88.85% in 2009, one year before the RTE, but rose 10 points to 98.18% in 2012.
Similarly, out of the 20 states which shared their results with the Bhukkal committee, 13 reported an increase in the pass percentage for class X exams. The annual dropout rates from classes I to V declined from 9.11% in 2009 to 6.50% in 2012.
In this context, Ms. Taneja concluded that NDP appears to have made no negative impact on children’s academic performance, but has instead helped in retaining them in school, enabling them to complete schooling.
Further strengthening her argument, she said, “The impact of detention will come as a severe blow to the lower strata of society who do not have the means and the enthusiasm to invest in the repetition of a class, thereby promoting child labour.”
Contrary to the idea of scrapping the NDP policy completely, Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO and co-founder of Next Education India, said, “Students should not worry about examinations, marks and peer pressure, but learn for the love of knowledge. This will also give teachers the creative freedom to teach and consequently reduce school dropouts. However, children should be steadily introduced to competition class VI onwards which will eventually help them to bear the pressure of board exams in class X.”
Putting forward a suggestion for the new education policy, he said, “Finding a job is one of the reasons for students to drop out of school. Aligning skill development and vocational training centres within the school set-up could open up a variety of avenues for students who will then be able to attain focused knowledge and, thus, become job-ready. This suggestion is not new, but its implementation still seems to be a far-fetched plan. Though the recommendation to increase the outlay on education to 6% of GDP has been ignored in previous instances, the NEP would be truly revolutionary if it is able to bring this proposition into force,” he said.
Ms. Taneja, on the other hand, suggested monitoring students’ performance, by providing remedial support and extending the role of e-learning for the government schools, to bridge the gap between private and government schools.