Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Aug 2017 11:37:37

THE decision of the Union Cabinet to scrap the ‘no-detention’ policy for students upto Class 8 in schools, should be treated as real good news for Indian education. The Government finally agreed to listen to the clamour for the scrapping of the no-detention policy. From now on, schools will have to conduct proper tests for students upto Class 8 and promote or detain them as per their performance. And by any measure, this will be a very right thing to happen in our schools. 

Even when the no-detention policy was first thought of, there was strong opposition to the idea by experts in education and child-psychology. Yet, the Government had pushed it down the nation’s throat. As a result of that thoughtless approach, schools came under the administration obligation and compulsion to promote every child until the level of Class 8. As no child failed, an altogether wrong impression got created in the kid’s mind that he or she has passed and is good enough to be promoted to the next class. In the process, many students with no capacity to pass also got through. Schools resented this, but could do nothing as they had to follow the national policy.

Now that wrong has been corrected finally as the Union Cabinet took the decision to scrap the no-detention policy.
Looking back, it must be said that the policy was totally anti-educational. We were aghast at that time as well when the no-detention policy was adopted. Yet, some persons at the top of the country’s educational bureaucracy thought of the so-called ‘smart’ idea to ensure that no child was detained in any examination until Class 8. One of the reasons cited then was that a child’s psychology would get adversely affected if he or she is detained. There could be nothing funnier than this argument.

For, failure is an integral part of life and every individual is bound to suffer setbacks and enjoy successes as he or she proceeds on life’s journey. Failure, so to say, is part of the learning process, and is often taken as a lesson to learn from and not something that would upset the person. It was from that point of view that experts in education and child psychology had opposed the no-detention policy. All those arguments were ignored and the policy was introduced.

It took so many years for wise counsel to prevail once again. During this intervening period, millions of Indian school children were pushed through a wrong mould that gave them wrong ideas about themselves. It must be said, however, to the credit of schools that their leading lights never agreed with the no-detention policy. They went through the motions but under silent protest.

On occasions, the protests became loud enough to be heard, but the educational bureaucracy was terribly brazen to pay any heed to reason and sense. Most unfortunately, children suffered, and not those who sit in cosy offices and draw up policies that make little sense.

Now also, there are quite many such policies that need to be scrapped immediately or redefined. One such unacceptable idea is to scrap the concept of ‘merit list’, to be replaced by grade system. But for those decisions to be taken, the educational bureaucracy will have to start listening to voices of reason and sense and also pay heed to people who are committed to the cause of education and learning and not commerce in its name.

Commerce! Yes. That is the dirtiest word when the field is education. It is the country’s worst misfortune that we adopted principles of brazen commerce in education and spoiled the atmosphere almost beyond easy repair. If we dream of making India a global leader, then we will have to start rectifying wrong things in education at all levels. We will have to ensure that commerce does not cross lines of reasonableness.