Friday, April 19, 2013

Pass-fail system to stay in city schools outside RTE ambit

Pass-fail system to stay in city schools outside RTE ambit

Somdatta Basu, TNN Aug 8, 2012, 03.09AM IST

KOLKATA: Several top city schools like St James and Pratt Memorial, which are private unaided minority institutions, will not implement the no-detention policy for students up to Class VIII that is mandatory under the RTE Act.
The Supreme Court had earlier exempted these institutions from the purview of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. Although state education minister Bratya Basu had insisted at a recent meeting with principals that all schools would have to follow the RTE directives, Vikram Sahay, director, RTE, in the Union HRD ministry, clarified in the city that private unaided minority schools were indeed out of the RTE ambit.

"We shall continue with the pass-fail system," St James School principal T H Ireland said. "If a student shows no improvement and fails in several subjects, he won't get a promotion. If they go through a schooling system without having any fear of failing, they will not study hard enough. Also, it will be difficult for them to accept failures later in life. Since the MHRD secretary has clearly stated that we are out of the RTE Act's purview, we will stick to the age-old beneficial system," he added.
La Martinere is likely to announce its stand only after a meeting of the board of governors. "We knew unaided private minority schools had been exempted from the RTE Act by the Supreme Court. The state government had doubts. We are happy there is no room for confusion. However, individual schools that come under the category have the autonomy to decide which way to go," La Martinere secretary Supriyo Dhar said. But state education minister Bratya Basu said he was yet to hear from the Centre. "We wrote to the HRD ministry seeking clarification about the RTE Act. I am yet to get a reply," he said.
A method similar to that prescribed under the RTE is followed at Welland Gouldsmith School. Principal Gillian Hart said, "We follow a system of auto promotion up to Class VI. Only if parents request the authorities to detain their child in his/her own interest are they kept back. From Class VII onwards, the pass-fail system will remain unlike in RTE that requires unhindered promotion till Class VIII." He added, "From Class VII, children are mature enough to handle failure. In the long run, it prepares them to face the world."
Authorities at La Martiniere For Boys said it will wait for the governing body's decision. A senior governing body member thought it was "dangerous to do away with the pass-fail system". "If a school is situated in a rural area and the major concern is to prevent dropouts, then the system of no detention till Class VIII may be fruitful. But in a school like La Martiniere, there are no such possibilities or it is a rare possibility," the member said.
Pratt Memorial principal Sonia Pradhan said she will follow the decision taken by schools run by the Church of North India (CNI). "If other CNI schools follow a policy, ours will be no different. We, too, will toe the line."
Union Chapel School, a CNI school affiliated to the ICSE, will also follow suit. Principal Usha Banerjee said, "In extreme cases, a child may be detained if he has a learning disability. I would resort to detention as a last option. But doing away completely with the pass fail system is not a good option. We have always spoken to parents and then decided to detain a child for academic reasons and in their benefit. We are happy that there will be none to give us orders now and we can carry on with our independence."

St Paul's Mission school principal Sanchita Biswas added, "The Anglo Indian schools are concerned about detention. Detaining a student for the sake of it is not the mission. But the idea is to ensure proper education and equip a child adequately to handle the next class. If a student shows no improvement even after remedial classes but is still promoted, it is detrimental to his future."

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