Because of Oxfam India's efforts, together with RTE forum and efforts of others as well, MHRD objected the Rajasthan government to amend the no-detention policy. MHRD said that detention demotivates the child and the state cannot amend the central RTE Act. We, as a part of RTE Forum, did media advocacy, signature campaigns in states and lobbied with parliamentarians to oppose the moves by states, to amend the policy and to restore the examination system. We, RTE Forum members, wrote a series of articles, opinion pieces and blogs in this regard.
Section 16 of the RTE Act prohibits all schools from failing and expelling a student up to Class VIII. But in September last year, the Rajasthan Assembly passed a Bill that diluted this section with an additional proviso which stated, “provided that if a child has not achieved class appropriate learning level in a class, he may be held back in that class.”
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 provides right to all children to free and compulsory quality education but after the implementation of this act some provisions are prohibiting quality education, the bill notes.
According to the amendment bill, the no detention policy upto class 8 was creating problems to such children who are not attaining minimum level of appropriate class and these were realized when these children are essentially promoted in the next class. Monitoring of providing quality education to children by the teacher is not done by the school management committee.
"It will now be bounding on the state government and school management committee to ensure quality education and to provide that children may not be promoted in higher classes unless they have acquired class appropriate learning level," the bill notes.
The bill has mainly amended sections 8, 16, 21, 24 and 29 of the RTE Act.
In section 16, the following proviso has been added: "Provided that if a child has not achieved class appropriate learning level in a class, he may be held back in that class."
It is worth mentioning here that some states including Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Maharashtra started processes to amend ‘No detention’ policy of RTE Act, 2009 last year. Rajasthan was the first state which moved one step ahead, but the HRD Ministry objected to the proposed amendment, yesterday, on the ground that it goes against the spirit of the RTE Act, which is a central law and cannot be changed by any state at will. This is one of the core provision of RTE Act, 2009, and restoring the detention/examination system will also raise questions on existence of some other important provisions within the Act including age-appropriate admissions followed by special training for such children, whose learning level is below than required level; screening procedures for admission; and anytime admission in schools.