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Detention Policy : A curse on the rural child - English Article

October 10, 2015

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     In the wake of the ensuing first meeting of the reconstituted Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE) aimed at making novelistic modifications for formulating a progressive academic framework in School Education System as per the need of the hour in concurrence with the Constitutional principles, there has been an enthusiastic discussion on the re-introduction of the bygone Detention Policy in the School Examination System all over India in consultation with the State Governments duly taking into confidence their conformity in principle as per democratic norms. As an endemic of the formulation of new ideological scheme in this regard, the government has made it obligatory to all the stake holders relating to the Educational field to confer their responses on the re-introduction of Detention System at School level assessment of scholastic achievement among pupils to defy the poor learning outcomes.

1. Whether Detention Policy is required in School Education ? : It is commonly felt not necessary for all the classes. Frankly to admit, in a country like India, detention system is the worst curse to the children belonging to those deprived classes who are poverty struck since ages in the rural areas struggling hard to meet the day to day requirements like food, water and shelter which are minimum needs of an individual.

2. Advantages of Detention Policy : It is generally felt that the child gets into the clutches of academic framework only when there is some sort of compulsion that mounts on him psychologically, as an element of fear drives him to learn and get through the examinations. Further, this hard-earned success motivates him in the higher class to seek Scholastic progress promoting the zeal within. Also it influences the peers to inculcate the values of disciplined learning habits ultimately leading to the establishment of idealistic educational system.

3. Disadvantages of Detention policy : As and when the child is compelled to encounter the severe threat of getting failed even in one subject, the wrath on learning is triggered and he/she may lose interest in studies on the whole. It has been reported true through many findings based on extensive researches conducted on the child psychologies that in the early learning stages of a child, if and when he/she meets with a failure, it results in generation of a demotivational attitude leading to the development of reluctance towards studies in future. The same has been certified by the Geeta Bhukkal Committee—a sub-committee under CABE set up to look into this matter admitted that there is no research anywhere in the world which establishes that repeating a year helps children perform better. But research does say that repeating has adverse academic and social effects on the child.

4. If it is required, from which class it is to be implemented ? : If the government is very keen in re-introducing the system for reasons debatable, it is better to implement in selected classes that decide the promotion capabilities on achievement of certain academic standards set in accordance with the National Curricular Framework regulations. Perhaps the fourth class (Class IV), the eighth class (Class VIII) and Twelfth class (Class XII) are much congenial for this purpose of implementation of Detention system which would certainly foster the qualitative scholastic values rather than futile quantitative passes prevalent as of now in the present educational system. 

5. Role of teachers and parents if detention policy is implemented : It is strongly felt that the role of teachers is indispensable in either cases whether detention is implemented or not. However, given the conditions of rural India, where most of the parents are illiterate and indifferent towards the academic progress of their wards due to their preoccupied thoughts focused on earning daily livelihood based solely on manual labour, the role of parents require a lot of change which is currently felt impracticable. Further ,the teacher has to concentrate much on the examination system (Question and Answer learning method) rather than going into imbibing the very essence of the lessons to bring up the child academically strong thereby paving the way for promoting the educational values. There arises a conflict in the mind of the teacher whether he/she should promote knowledge in the child or just get the child ready for examinations. It is here that ultimately the latter dominates the former ending up in tragic devastation of educational and ethical values that are the very essence of education. Already prominent educationists and experienced Social activists are feeling very unhappy at the dwindling social and moral values in our society for want of ethical values in educational system which is leading to the emergence of vandalistic ideology among the present day youth resulting in the accelerating crime rate and ruthless behavioural attitudes. This gradually leads to the degradation of total educational system contributing for the decline of country’s academic credibility.

6. Dropout rate if Detention Policy is introduced : It is evident from so many past experiences that failures in academics at school level trigger a sharp hike in dropout rate among rural Indian children. Since the rural peasantry and the poor chieflyconcentrate on earning their livelihood through manual labour, it is generally found that higher priority is given to earning rather than getting educated. In lieu of the regular failures due to the detention system in various classes, the parents are constrained to admonish their wards which in turn leads to the losing of interest in education by the child that results in drop out ultimately. The pupil’s failure in elementary school examination would certainly prove fatal not only to the pupil’s future, but the total setup of education because the child would lose hope in education and deviate from regular mainstream educational system and leave the habit of learning that promotes disbelief among the other pupils who follow the same path. This results in rampant increase in drop out rate that finally leads to the collapse of elementary education which is the basis for development of rural masses.

7. Does quality of education improve due to the introduction of detention system ? : Improvement in educational standards may not be guaranteed even if the detention system is introduced. Further, the teaching - learning process is chiefly focused on getting through the examination rather than emphasizing on improvement of scholastic standards at various levels of school education. The aspect of applicability of academics learnt is ignored and this gradually dilutes the quality of education.

8. Burden on children due to detention system : Additional burden of shouldering the fear of failure in examinations haunts the child and the child is taken aback in most of the expressive talents due to psychological stress in rural areas where the child is confronted with lot of problems like lack of proper guidance from the parents or other elders at home. The child does not get much assurance from the living environment around him in matters that require scholastic and emotional support as well due to poverty and illiteracy of parents at home. The first generation learners, however are subjected to severe psychological stress and it may ultimately lead to escapist tendency which finally causes total wrath towards the educational system in the child’s mind.

9. Need for more resources for implementation of detention policy : Detention Policy certainly requires much infrastructure to be provided at school and at home. Better equipped study material, concise and graded text books along with reference books that save time, money and labour are at dearth and are right now, the need of the hour.

10. Measures required to build the capacities of teachers for implementation of Detention policy : It is largely felt that the teacher has to be prepared first for implementation of any sort of change that has to be made in the system. Even in the case of detention system, if needed to be implemented inevitably, has to bear some primary requisites on the part of the teacher primarily. Resourcefulness, Understanding the very essence of motive behind the re-introduction of detention system, zeal, proper ideology of guiding the child towards victory in the examinations, comprehensive competitive nature and sincerity in evaluation are some of the pre-requisites that are required in a teacher. For imbibing all these features, the teacher has to be trained and groomed perfectly in order to achieve the goal. Objective evaluation techniques have to be chalked out in all the subjects and implemented with sincere efforts without foregoing the prudish values of pedagogy.

11. Steps required to be taken to achieve the competencies by the children : As per the requirements of the Detention system, the children will have to be primarily equipped with the confidence that they can pass in their examinations. For that, basically the questioning pattern has to be brought into the understandable and simple level without giving scope for any confusion among the pupils. The class room organization should be very much conducive for effective learning by the children. Regularity in attendance is however a prerequisite for attaining success. This should be scrupulously made mandatory to the best extent possible at the sametime permitting some exceptional cases like children suffering from autistic behaviours and Wrett’s syndrome along with some health disorders. The parameters for deciding the class ending achievement levels in lower classes pertaining to elementary education and middle school education may be brought down slightly keeping in view the slow learners in the rural areas where there is very less scope for exposure to academic atmosphere and lack of proper educational support at home. However, the gaps are to be filled up with the implementation of special coaching provisions after school hours by arranging additional study hours engaged by specially trained tutors being given honorarium. This would also provide an employment opportunity for the rural educated youth.

12. Detention system and malpractices : It is strongly felt that detention system promotes unhealthy practices among children due to its compulsion of getting through the examinations as its whole and sole end. Hence in achieving the target of passing through the examinations, the child might resort to several malpractices that ultimately ruin the very educational system, if implemented in every class. More emphasis is put on examinations and both the teacher and the taught focus on examinations which leads to stoop down of system paving way to decline of ethical values in education. Mass copying, leakages of question papers, management of examination centres, yielding to the local political pressures mounting on the system could be some examples.

13. Detention system and corruption among officials : There is every chance of increase in the corruption among the officials if detention system is implemented in every class. As mentioned above, issues including the local political pressures, parents’ apprehensiveness with regard to their ward’s academic achievement and at times the failure of school authorities might become strong factors in contributing to the corruption among officials.

14. Private management and Detention system : In a country like India where the private managements are believed to be running a parallel educational system to the government by exploiting the parents not only in terms of extracting money but even subjecting both the children and their parents to severe humiliation by squeezing their blood, toil and tears for the sake of winning the race of supremacy among each other in the field. The detrimental competition between these private and especially the corporate schools has led to so many suicidal attempts made by the innocent young pupils who could not cope up with the pressures that they are subjected to by the managements in the name of attaining success. The alarming increase in suicidal death rate among students of Corporate educational institutions is a practical evidence for these type of situations. It is certainly an important matter of concern for every educationist and the government has to address these fallacies without any delay. It is really high time that the government should think over the matters much seriously lest the innocent pupils’ lives are at stake. Education should only be a means but not the end of life as enunciated by the eminent scholars right from the past. Further the managements are so cunning all the time to encash every opportunity by increasing the fees in the name of providing infrastructure, books, play materials, sports opportunities, snacks, meals, transportation facilities, building fees, and what not. Given the situation where detention system is reintroduced, the private and corporate managements shall certainly swallow the total society in the name of pass guarantee schemes by transforming their institutions into financial income hatcheries rather than “Schools”. It is really pathetic to note that many such over-avaricious Corporate heads are today part and parcel of Law making system which decides the fate of this country.

15. Detention system and rote methods in learning : The detention system is sure to bring back the rote memory, and rote learning methods if implemented in each class ignoring the application domain of concepts learnt in the class room by the pupils. However a mediocre pupil might feel it comfortable to rote memorise the concept for just passing through the examinations. On the other hand, this leads to degradation of academic standards in the higher education which hampers the progressive learning that fails to cater to the needs of the society in future.

16. Detention system and pressure on young minds : Teaching and learning process should always be a pleasurable activity for both the teacher and the pupil. Unfortunately, due to the constraints laid down by the administrative set up from time to time in the name of several programmes, the teacher and the pupils are subjected to much stress and strain leading to monotony in the class room that severely affects the system of learning causing mental fatigue and restlessness in both the teacher and the taught. Freedom in chalking out own teaching strategies by the teachers is now the word of the bygone past. Even the most talented and the creative pupil is not given much scope to excel and express himself or herself in the class room due to preset rigid framework of teaching strategies that are enforced. The pupils are at cross roads to decide their future career prospects even after completion of school education. This indecisive situation is due to the dubious strategies implemented in our education system that are causing the failure in identifying and prioritizing their needs by the pupils. This would worsen further if detention system is introduced in every class.

17. Detention system – impact on creative, critical, analytical, problem solving thought domains : Detention system as said earlier, if implemented in each class would inflict severe complications leading to the sabotage of student friendly educationalatmosphere and imbibe phobia in young minds marring the creative thinking capabilities in them. Especially in rural areas where the children are generally deprived of proper educational opportunities due to the localized needs, the detention system would unconditionally ruin their chances of continuing education and would force them back to their peasantry labour subjecting them to tumultuous life in future. Obviously it is felt that Detention would promote abyss rather than progress in the lives of rural children.

Note : Section 16 of the RTE mandates that no child can be detained or held back in a class until the completion of his/her elementary education. The corollary of this is continuous and comprehensive evaluation prescribed in Section 29 (h), more commonly known as CCE. 

     These provisions have given a legal status to the principle of no detention and the development of a progressive and holistic evaluation framework, enunciated in the National Policy on Education, 1986 and also the National Curriculum Framework, 2005. In 2012, the Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) crystallized its position on the NDP as follows, 

     “The 'no detention' provision is made because examinations are often used for eliminating children who obtain poor marks. Once declared 'fail', children either repeat grade or leave the school altogether. Compelling a child to repeat a class is demotivating and discouraging.”

     It was also clarified that the present CCE (Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation System ) is “a procedure that will be non-threatening, releases the child from fear and trauma of failure and enables the teacher to pay individual attention towards the child’s learning capabilities and applicative skills in day today life ”.

     As envisaged by several educationists and academicians, the no-detention policy (NDP) and CCE are based on sound principles of pedagogy and assessment, recognised world-wide. They are thus a welcome change to the exam-centric culture prevalent in Indian schools.

     There are also very strong equity considerations behind the NDP policy, especially for children from low-income families, and girls. Failure for these children implies dropping out, as alluded to in the MHRD position. In fact, wastage in the schooling system due to high repetition and high dropout rates has been a major concern since the 1990s. The no-detention clause in the RTE Act seeks to address that concern. 

     A possible alternative solution in this context would be strengthening the present CCE system by incorporating certain modifications suited to the local needs by the teacher in consultation with the counterparts at the school level guided by the local educational authorities without detriment to the basic principles laid down in the core program formulated by the department. However the efforts of the teacher have to be taken into confidence and encouragement should be given by the concerned so as to make it a successful process.

Conclusion : 

     In view of the above mentioned, it is felt that detention system may not be feasible at all levels of schooling. However, if the government still feels it essential for implementation owing to it’s priorities, it would be better to implement in Class IV (with very little difficulty level question papers), Class VIII (with mediocre difficulty level question papers) and Class XII (with stipulated level standards in questioning) duly addressing the various problems and pitfalls that are discussed above keeping in view the prospects of future citizens of India. 

Jai Hind !

Written by K. Chandra Mouli


Read more writings of this author: K.Chandra Mouli

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