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When just 8% schools comply with Right to Education, retaining "weak" children in same class will punish millions

By Mitra Ranjan*
The Right to Education (RTE) Forum has strongly condemned the passing of ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha. It has scrapped the ‘no detention’ provision. Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum, has said, "No detention withdrawn by the Government of India in parliament will punish millions of children despite systemic failures and non-implementation of RTE Act.”
Rai said that there is no established cause-effect link between "learning levels" and "no detention policy".
Accordint to him, “It is the poor quality of education, lack of infrastructure, teacher vacancies and the presence of untrained teachers that may have an effect on learning outcomes. No detention clause, one of the most critical parts of RTE Act, now pulled out, has put the entire RTE Act at risk of disintegration. The greatest negative impact will be on disadvantaged groups, first generation learners and Adivasi students along with the girl children.”
He also said that this bill has been introduced on the pretext of impacting learning outcome but the government didn’t bother ever to implement CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) on ground.
“It must be noted that the consequence of detaining a child in the same class works adversely on the child’s psyche and has an impact on his/her self-esteem. It often affects the child’s motivation to continue in school which results in drop-out or rather, being pushed out of the school system,” Rai added.
Rai further reminded that even after eight years of the enactment of the RTE Act, the schoos' compliance with RTE norms and standrads is only 8% which is a shame on a democratic welfare state. But instead of deleivering on the responsibilities, the state is going on the other way to weaken the minimum rights provided by the Constitution.

Provisions of the amendment 

The Lok Sabha passed the amendment on Wednesday in order to do away with to the existing policy prohibits schools from detaining students till they complete elementary education. In India, elementary school runs from Class 1 to Class 8.
The amendment says that states can choose to hold a regular examination either at the end of Classes 5 and 8, or both. Students who fail this test will get additional instruction and the opportunity to appear for a re-examination within two months of the declaration of the result. If the students still do not pass the exam, the state government may decide to detain them.
However, if states choose, they can continue the no-detention policy all the way to Class 8. No child can be expelled from school before they complete elementary education, the amendment bill states.
The proposal for amendment was introduced in August 2017 and referred to a Standing Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The committee presented its report to both the Houses of Parliament in February, endorsing the amendment bill “in its present form”.
Apart tyhe RTE Forum, another NGO which has opposed the amendment is Social Research and Development Foundation, based in Bihar. “If children are not learning at school and the answer of the government is to hold them back and ultimately push them out, that is a very wrong policy decision,” it said. “It can only be hoped that states will not make use of it. Really wondering that you appreciate it.”
The no-detention policy of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, banned the practice of making under-performing children repeat classes in elementary school to ensure they do not drop out. It was meant to reduce the emphasis on year-end examinations and replace it with a form of evaluation that would track students’ progress through the year.
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*With inputs from other media sources

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