|OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT|
New Delhi, April 25: A parliamentary panel has said automatic promotion till Class VIII may hamper children’s attitude to learning and has suggested a policy rethink.
The parliamentary standing committee on HRD headed by Oscar Fernandes highlighted continuous promotion as a threat to motivated learning among children. The observation was made in a report on demand for grants for school education, which was submitted today.
Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, no child should be detained up to Class VIII. The system of continuous promotion can be done away by amending the RTE Act.
The law, however, does not abolish examination in elementary classes. The act says that schools can introduce the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE), a series of tests through out the year to assess the scholastic and extra-curricular skills of children.
Several studies, including one by government agency NCERT, have found poor learning outcome in children from government schools. A study by NGO Pratham has found that the learning outcome of children has gone down in the past three years, the period during which the RTE Act came into force.
The parliamentary panel’s report said: “The committee feels a student may not be motivated to work hard to learn if he or she is aware that promotion to the next grade is guaranteed… the committee would like the department to rethink on its policy of automatic promotion up to Class VIII.”
An HRD ministry official said the continuous promotion provision was made part of the RTE law as educationists felt detaining a child in a class would affect his motivation. “This provision can be undone only by amending the RTE Act,” the official said.
National Advisory Council member N.C. Saxena, who earlier headed a separate committee to study the implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, said continuous promotion should stay but the CCE should be implemented properly.
“The CCE is not being implemented at all in the government schools in most states. As a result, students’ learning ability is going down. Parents are transferring their children to private schools,” he said.
Saxena said the teachers in government schools are not trained to conduct CCE properly. The state governments, too, have not prepared any CCE module to guide teachers.
“What is required is proper CCE module and training to teachers. But I am not in favour of introducing detention policy in elementary classes,” Saxena said.
The parliamentary panel said a child might not be mature enough to understand the importance of the outcome of learning at an early stage. But the students may be shocked when they would be required to attain minimum benchmarks from Class IX for promotion to the next grade.
A committee has been set up under Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal to study the CCE and its implementation. “We have got responses from about 20 states. Most states are not opposed to continuous promotion but they want some sort of screening in elementary classes,” Bhukkal told The Telegraph.
She said CCE might not be feasible in view of large scale vacancy of teachers in government schools in all the states. But annual examinations can be conducted in schools without the system of detaining a student. Her committee will hand over the report next week, she said.