Failure Not an Option for Students Till Class 8. But That Could Change.

The policy of not failing students is resulting in a decline in education standards.

New Delhi:

Under-achievers in school who are enrolled in Class 8 or below are not failed. They get grades, not marks, and are promoted to the next class even if they perform abysmally. That policy, introduced five years ago by the Congress-led government, could be up for review.

At a recent meeting called by union Education Minister Smriti Irani, representatives of at least four states including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar said that the policy of not detaining young children, meant to ensure their self-esteem is not bruised too young, may backfire.

"We are often in a situation where students don't fail till Class 8, and then don't pass in class 9. We are keen to have some policy where the aptitude and learning of students can be gauged through exams or other mechanisms. Otherwise by the time they are in their teens they are clueless on what their area of interests are and what they want to do," explained Kedar Kashyap, the Education Minister of Chhattisgarh.

Delhi's Education Minister Manish Sisodia has also written to Ms Irani pointing out that the policy of not failing students is resulting in a decline in education standards. He said that once a student enters Class 4, promotion must depend on making the grade, so to speak.  

Another common ground for many states was exploring the possibility of re-introducing the Board exams that were made optional for students of class 10 just 4 years ago.  

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The government says the consultative process for framing the new education policy will take time and a decision will be taken only after the highest advisory body for education takes up these suggestions. Vrinda Swarup, Secretary in the Ministry for Human Resource Development, told the media, "There are 33 broad themes that we have given and a lot of discussions (we had with states) also talked about quality, skills and employability as important dimensions. "

The national policy on Education, last updated in 1992 and currently being reviewed, sets the agenda for schools that are run privately and by the government.  

Though different states agree on some key issues, the new education policy is expected to be a long drawn out consultative process as the ministry plans to reach out not just to states but right down to the village level, planning to hold 2.5 lakh meetings at village level, 626 at the district level and 3500 in urban local bodies.