RTE Act: New Amendment Scraps No-Detention Policy; Allows Detention Of Students In Class 5 And 8

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“Lok Sabha passes the bill scrapping the no-detention policy until class 8 this Wednesday, but making no change in policy relating to expulsion of students before completion of elementary education.”

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday amending the right to education act under (Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009) which prohibited against holding back a student up to class VII.

Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar moved the bill which proposed the amendment seeking revocation of ”no detention” policy in classes 5 and 8, enabling states now to allow schools to fail the child if he/she fails in either or both classes and withhold their promotion to the next standard.

The original RTE Act — This was one of the main components of the RTE Act which came into force on April 1, 2010 — stipulated that no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education.

The amended Act, according to Indo-Asian News Service, will now have provisions not only for examination in both these classes but will also extend powers to the state to hold back children, if they fail in re-examination– also provisioned in the amended Bill.

According to the amendment bill, if a student fails in the second attempt, he/she can be detained.

The amendment bill substitutes present Section 16 wholly with a new provision. This states that there should be a regular examination in class five and class eight at the end of every academic year. It further states that additional opportunity for a student failing in such regular examination has to be provided within two months from the date of declaration of result. The state government also give power to schools that if any student fails in re-examination can be held back. It is also clarified that the governments are at liberty to decide not to hold back a student in any class until the completion of elementary education. (‘Elementary education’ is defined as education from class one to class eight, as per Section 2(f)).

Applying  Section 16 of the principal Act,  courts have held that no student can be detained up to class VIII for any reason and that a child has the right to promotion until the eighth standard even in unaided minority educational institutions. This position will undergo change, if the amendment bill passed by the Lok Sabha on July 18 gets approval from the Rajya Sabha as well.

The proposed 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”.

The Right to Education Forum has condemned the bill. Its national convenor, Ambarish Rai, said detaining students would have “adverse consequences”.

“The consequence of detaining a child in the same class works adversely on the child’s psyche and has a deep impact on his or her self-esteem,” Rai said. “It is a very unfortunate move which will impact all children, particularly those belonging to most marginalised communities.”

The Social Research and Development Foundation, a Bihar-based non-governmental organisation, also criticised the passage of the bill. “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 tweeted. “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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