The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE) passed in the year 2009 makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 under Article 21A and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools. The Act requires all private schools (except the minority institutions) to reserve 25% seats for the poor and other categories of children (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan).
Concerning the higher dropout rate due to being unable to read, write and pass, the Act under section-16, prohibits schools from detaining or expelling any student up to Class VIII for reducing the higher dropout rate and to have a minimum educated citizenry.
The essence of the policy is that children should not be “failed” and detained up to Class 8. This also means there are no “examinations” in the narrow traditional sense of the word up to Class 8. Instead, the Act mandates a process of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) to assess and evaluate the student’s learning. CCE regularly assesses student progress in multiple ways and uses the feedback in the teaching-learning process. It gives a continuous progress record and specific inputs for improving learning. Unlike exams, it can also assess things such as social attitudes, creativity, emotional development and perseverance. Research evidence across the world suggests that such methods (called formative assessments) tend to improve student learning.
However, after few years of its implementation the policy has proved to be counter-productive and a wide range of criticism on the issue has been witnessed from various factions of the society. The policy has led to students developing a lackadaisical attitude towards their studies. Parents also didn’t bother as their children cannot be held back in the class. This has reduced the quality of education and has led to no difference between good and bad students.
The recently appointed T. S. R. Subramanian committee has recommended that the no detention policy must be continued for young children until completion of class V when the child will be 11 years old. At the upper primary stage, the system of detention shall be restored subject to the provision of remedial coaching and at least two extra chances being offered to prove his capability to move to a higher class