After the Union Cabinet recently gave its nod for scrapping the ‘no detention policy till Std VIII’, possibly from the next academic year, educational experts and principals said they think that this move would actually work better for students right now (though it’s a regressive method of evaluation), as our country is still not ready for a progressive reform like continuous comprehensive evaluation.
The government introduced the policy in 2010 as a part of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) to ensure that everybody gets elementary education that they deserve and the drop out rates from schools are lowered. However, while RTE proposed a scientific approach of continuous comprehensive evaluation for the assessment of students, it wasn’t successful considering the lack of necessary educational infrastructure and quality of teachers in our country.
The new proposed amendment gives schools the permission to conduct examinations for students of Std V and VIII, and detain students if they fail. However, the students are to be given a second opportunity to be promoted through another examination.
This move is largely being hailed by school authorities as well as experts saying that it will help alter the students’ attitude towards education right from a lower class instead of pressurising them once they reach Std IX. As students did not have to answer any major examination till Std VII, they did not take their studies seriously till they reached Std IX and this led to tremendous pressure of studying and performing well later.
Psychologists have also reported cases where the lack of a habit of writing a long examination paper has been observed to put huge amount of physical and mental stress on the students in Std IX. While the schools couldn’t really do anything to detain students earlier, they indulged in the practice of detaining their students in Std IX to ensure they have a good SSC result for the institute the next year. This has further resulted in damaging the self esteem of teenagers who had’t tasted failure.
While scrapping of the ‘no detention policy’ would habituate students with the process of studying and evaluation that they have to go through for the rest of their lives after Std VIII right from the beginning, it will also help them cope with hard work and failures in a better way.
As far as the education culture in the country is concerned, this model of no detention and continuous assessment, that has proved to be successful in many countries, isn’t yet feasible in our country considering the need for the improvement in educational infrastructure, quality of teachers and syllabus. And though most educationists think of it as a ‘sorry’ state, examination is the only way we could make people (students as well as parents) take education seriously at present.
Bringing back of the examination system may have its own side effects too. Many RTE activists feel that this may worsen the drop out rates among students coming from backward socio-economic strata of society. Again, it may be even worse for girls in rural areas, where the tendency of preventing daughters from going to schools if they fail has been prevalent for a long time.
In order to make the comprehensive assessment model a success, our country needs to work on several fronts, right from the infrastructure, educational tools, to improving the quality of teachers as well as the teacher-student ratio in all parts of the country equally. There is a need to bring about adequate educational reforms by consulting with the educationists in the country to bring about the necessary change.