THE F IS BACK

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Aug 2017 16:25:16


In the first place, the no-detention policy should not have been implemented at all. But some generous brains thought of introducing it as a grand plan to create only, and only, successful students in schools. The ‘Fail’ word became such a taboo that none dared to oppose it despite resentment within the education circles. The policy was pushed down schools’ throats in 2010 as an integral part of the Right To Education Act 2009. As per this policy, students in schools are promoted  automatically to higher classes every year till the eighth grade. Many experts and psychologists had opposed it but the then Union Government was in no mood to look beyond its myopic view. Within seven years, it proved to be a major fiasco with rise in drop-outs and failures in Std 9 and 10th. The Hitavada Assistant Editor Rahul Dixit comments on the scrapping of the no-detention policy.

 


WISE counsel has finally prevailed with the Union Cabinet scrapping the no-detention policy in schools till Std 8. Finally, the education policy-makers are convinced that failure is not the end of everything but just a part of learning process. It is indeed a welcome change and a right decision that will tremendously help India in shaping her next generations with right responsibility.

In the first place, the no-detention policy should not have been implemented at all. But some generous brains thought of introducing it as a grand plan to create only, and only, successful students in schools. The ‘Fail’ word became such a taboo that none dared to oppose it despite resentment within the education circles. The policy was pushed down schools’ throats in 2010 as an integral part of the Right To Education Act 2009. As per this policy, students in schools are promoted automatically to higher classes every year till the eighth grade.

Many experts and psychologists had opposed it but the then Union Government was in no mood to look beyond its myopic view. Within seven years, it proved to be a major fiasco with rise in drop-outs and failures in Std 9 and 10. It was bound to happen when students were promoted to the next class till Std 8 irrespective of how much they had learnt. The false confidence it pumped into the students was a bubble waiting to burst.

Another drawback of the no-detention policy is the laxity it brings among the teachers and students alike. With the end result already known, complacency is guaranteed in the entire educational process. The parents, too, become part of the entire sham, assured of their wards’ promotion to the next class.

The no-detention policy brought in an absolutely absurd parameter of judging students. All were placed together unmindful of their different comprehending capacities. The first casualty of this stupidity was a healthy competition. All were equal in the final examination despite varying degrees of intellect. The absence of ‘fear of failure’ started creating wrong impression on the kids’ minds. Many school teachers complained of students’ negligence towards studies and gradual decline in the process of learning.

The worst thing it did was absolving the parents of their responsibilities. Indian households have been using the “fear of failure” as a potent tool to prod their kids to study hard. With the ‘F’ on progress-cards gone, it no longer remained a fear thus resulting in a casual approach towards learning. Parents’ pressure to keep their wards at par with the world on their kids’ own abilities forms the essence of Indian education system. But the no-detention policy meant all this pressure would get accumulated and then unleashed on the poor kid only in matriculation examination. It is a dangerous portent where all of a sudden our kids are made to look like fools.

Learning is a continuous process from nursery to post-graduation -- and beyond as well. It must have phases where a student can assess himself/herself. Detention and failure are integral part of those phases. By removing the ‘fear of failure’ the entire process was pushed to the brink of casualness. Schools resented the no-detention policy since they had to promote the students compulsorily despite knowing their weaknesses. But they had no option than to follow the national policy.

The no-detention policy is actually weakening the foundation of the students in Classes 6, 7, and 8, according to leading educationists. No spectacular edifice can sustain for long on such brittle foundation. The sharp dip in general level of awareness among youngsters in the society is a glaring proof of a weak foundation. Tune in to any FM radio channel and listen to the massive disconnect of young students with general knowledge. The channels’ street quizzes on simple questions evoke such inane -- and ignorant -- replies that leave one flabbergasted. It also reflects pathetically on the education system they have been through.

The no-detention policy is one of the reasons among this casual approach towards learning and awareness. The earlier system used to make an earnest effort in producing ‘Jacks of all trades and Masters of some’. The compulsion, to improve students’ learning of various subjects and its success depending on the final examination, helped the kids take to studies with larger responsibility. Once the ‘fear of failure’ got diluted, it became a ‘masti ki paathshala’.

The 2010 Act mandates a process of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) to assess and evaluate the students’ learning. Schools follow the norm of CCE diligently but it only makes a footnote in the progress report. Parents are more than happy with the promotion of their wards to the next class. It then becomes the next class teacher’s responsibility to deal with students even with poor performance.

Fortunately, the policy makers did not think of applying the same norms to the sports field. One shudders with the thought of ‘all winners’ despite losing badly in a contest. Thankfully, the parents of successful sportspersons, too, did not opt for such laxity. Otherwise, we would have been placing the gully cricketer on the same pedestal with Sachin Tendulkar.

What makes the Sachins and Sainas and Sindhus the champions is their innate belief in competing with self, and at the same time with their opponents. It is never a slug-fest but a healthy competition where one with higher craving for success emerges winner. Had there been a casualness after knowing the end result in advance the contest would have petered into a dull, lifeless routine.

Competition, healthy and fair, is a must in every walk of life. The winner always takes it all but the second-best also learns a big lesson that guides him/her in the future life.
It would be prudent if all the States willingly adopt the new policy from the next academic session. Many States, including Maharashtra, are still dithering from adopting the new policy of conducting examination upto Class 8. The Union Cabinet has corrected a big wrong and the State Governments need to toe the line quickly.

Once that happens eventually, that would mark the beginning of a new phase, as per the description of a paper at the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland last year, of producing young minds that would be better than the best that would survive the challenges of the ongoing fourth industrial revolution that began with the Android
technology.