The Lok Sabha today passed The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill 2017 which allows detention of school students in class 5 and 8. Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar moved the bill which proposed the amendment seeking revocation of ''no detention'' policy in classes 5 and 8, enabling states now to allow schools to fail the child if he/she fails in either or both classes and withhold their promotion to the next standard.
The original RTE Act -- This was one of the main components of the RTE Act which came into force on April 1, 2010 -- stipulated that no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education.
Moving the amendment bill, the HRD minister said that the amendment was necessary to improve the "learning outcomes".
He also said that the demands for repeal of ''no detention'' policy were made by many states and Union Territories in recent years which observed students scoring "poor marks".
Replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the RTE Amendment Bill, 2017, Mr Javadekar said that it will be at the discretion of the states whether to continue with no detention or not.
The amended Act, according to Indo-Asian News Service, will now have provisions not only for examination in both these classes, but will also extend powers to the state to hold back children, if they fail in re-examination-- also provisioned in the amended Bill.
According to the amendment bill, if a student fails in second attempt, he/she can be detained.
"This will ensure a continued study by the students and improve their performance," the HRD ministry had hoped in a statement.
"It is a broken education system. We have to rebuild our education system," he added.
The minister said that in some of the states like Sikkim , Kerala and Telangana, the students ,who were studying in private schools, have come back to government schools.
"Teacher training, quality and accountability are most important," Mr Javadekar said.
Stating that there was no shortages of teachers, the minister, however, added that the deployment of teachers was not right.
While moving the bill in the Lok Sabha, the minister said, "It is a very important legislation and a majority of state governments supported this Centre's proposal. It brings accountability in our elementary education system."
Referring to the no-detention policy in the Act, the Minister said "schools have become only schools for mid-day meal as education and learning are missing".
According to the minister, the bill has also been analysed by the standing committee and the panel also recommended bringing back the concept of detention in schools.
The policy had been brought as it was felt that compelling children to repeat a class was demotivating, often forcing them to abandon school, he said.
Bill lacks clarity: Congress
Speaking on the bill, Press Trust of India reported that, Congress MP KC Venugopal said that the proposed legislation lacks "clarity".
"This bill needs clarity. It should be clarified that whether the Centre or the states will conduct the exams," Mr Venugopal said. He also demanded a hike in the allocation for Centre's flagship programme Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan.
Echoing similar sentiments, BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said the government should form uniform guidelines for conducting exams and leave it to the state on how the exams should be conducted.
Support for the Bill
Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena and Saugat Roy of the TMC also lent support to the bill.
Mr Sawant asked the government to focus on primary education.
Mr Roy praised the minister for his "non-confrontationist" approach as he supported the bill. Children often do not study if there are no exams, he said, adding that education system is currently in a bad shape and learning outcomes were going down due to non-detention policy.
"The education system is like an inverted pyramid and adequate focus has not been given to primary education," he said.
Supriya Sule of NCP also supported the bill and said introduction of exams was necessary.
Prem Singh Chandumajra of Akali Dal and Sanjay Jaiswal of BJP also spoke in support of the Bill.
Several members demanded that teachers should also be made accountable for learning outcomes.
The Union Cabinet had approved the decision to scrape no-detention policy one year ago.
(With Inputs from PTI and IANS)
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