By Sumit Kumar:
The no detention policy (NDP) is in the news again as the Subramanian committee has recommended a contraction of it from Class VIII to Class V. No detention policy, as started under RTE (Right To Education) by the MHRD in 2010 has done significant damage to public education in India and will continue to do so unless revoked, sooner rather than later. The problem with the NDP is that it stands in complete contravention of the premise of quality and fair education.
Education is not about degrees or marks but it is about the skills, knowledge and rationality injected into the minds of children. But that does not make redundant marks in the context of exams given the mounting level of competition. Marks act as a yardstick to measure the alignment of a student’s mind in a given subject but this alignment comes to play only after one crosses the level of Class X board exams. This is because, more or less, the subjects taught up to that level are uniform and they are designed in a way to impart basic knowledge about different subjects to the children. It is imperative for any society, especially one like us, who seek to harness the demographic advantage into an economic one, to impart a quality education.
The no detention policy guarantees every student promotion up to Class VIII. The rationale is to contain the drop-out rates in the schools and ensure compulsory education up to the age of 14 as asserted by Article 21-A in Part III of the Constitution. But, the fact is that it has helped in the vitiation of the public education system in India. It can erase the fear of studying well absolutely from the minds of students as they may take promotion for granted. Their parents, who to a great extent belong to socially and economically ‘backward’ groups and often cannot find much time to pay much attention to the studies of their children, might also become less concerned.
Such mistaken policies in education result in ‘toppers‘ that read “Political Science” as “prodigal science” and equate it with Home Science. The onus of providing the requisite education infrastructure lies with the state but the onus of studying and getting the minimum qualifying marks does not lie with the state. And this is the thin line of difference that the state ought to understand. There is no point giving a certificate of Class I if one does not know the difference between vowels and consonants. We can lie to others about our literacy but what is the point of lying to ourselves in the matter of education. I believe that education is the solution to a range of problems that exist in our society. But such education is not likely to have any considerable impact.
There can be many other coherent methods to increase the enrollment rate and contract the drop-out rates. Scholarships, fiscal incentives to the parent, awareness drives are some of the plausible options that the state can choose. The recent exam fraud and scam that came to light in Bihar is probably the ugly truth in much of India and policies like the ‘no detention’ only increase such things and jeopardise the education, future and idea of India.
Featured image for representation only. Credit: Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images.