Editorial Simplified: Limits of Class | GS – II

The Indian Express | GS 2

Why has this article cropped up?

The RTE Amendment Bill, recently passed in Rajya Sabha, has again triggered the periodic debate between anti-detentionists — votaries of No-Detention Policy (NDP) — and detentionists.

The Amendment

The amendment allows states to decide whether to withdraw automatic promotion at the end of 5th and 8th grades, which is the point of contention.

Arguments given by pro-detention

  • If children know that they will automatically pass, they don’t study, thus learning achievements come down
  • Since Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) is not implemented seriously, if no-detention is practised then certificate of elementary education will certify no learning.

Arguments given by anti-detention

  • Fear of failure causes stress and trauma and failure demotivates and pushes children out of system. Stigma of failure mainly harms Dalit and tribal children.
  • Detention will weaken many other provisions of RTE, like admission in age-appropriate class.
  • Failing children does not make them learn ; no-detention produces improved learning achievements.

The limits  of ‘Class’

  • The school is organised class-wise and the textbooks are written class-wise. Therefore, promotion to the next class is not a matter of age, but of learning achievements; implying that the very concept of class as used in RTE contains the idea of detention, if need be.
  • The class-wise structure of curriculum and school on one hand, and CCE on the other, pull the system in opposite directions.

Way Forward

  • Defining elementary education in terms of learning standards;
  • Organising curriculum as a free-paced learning path, and not boxed into classes;
  • Organising schools as ungraded heterogeneous learning groups, composed of children at various levels; and
  • Introduce the ideas of self-learning and peer group learning, a necessity to manage a heterogeneous learning group.
  • All this will require systemic reforms and to prepare teachers for this change through massive and serious in-service professional development.