From this academic year, following the decision by Gujarat last month to implement an amendment of the Right to Education Act, nearly 2.5 to 2.7 lakh students in the state are expected to be detained in the same class. This amendment was passed by the Parliament in January. Meanwhile, almost 6.45 lakh students from Class 6 to Class 8 spread across 32,000 government schools were part of the ‘Mission Vidya’ campaign.
As part of the amendment to the RTE Act, the no-detention policy was scrapped, and the states were given the authority to detain the weak students, if need be. Following this, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, the State Education Minister, stated the decision to detain students of Gujarat Board class 5 and class 8, from the current academic year, if they failed their examinations. He also went on to add that this would be implemented from the March-April 2020 annual examinations.
According to the Education Minister, the no-detention policy was having an adverse effect on the learning levels of the students of Gujarat, thus impacting the state education board results, as well. He opined that following this amendment and remedial program for detained students, the board exam results would improve.
As of now, almost 30%- 33% of the total number of students in classes 5 and 8 are expected to be detained. Meanwhile, as per a 4-year projection by the Gujarat Education Department, based on the overall pass percentage of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSEB) class 10 students, the number is also expected to go up in the 2nd and 3rd year.
“These 2.5 lakh students who are held back in Class 8 will add to the fresh 8 lakh students in the first year of the scrapping of no-detention policy,” a senior education official said, explaining the numbers estimated for four years. “From this 10-10.5 lakh students, around 3.25-3.5 lakh students will be held back in the second year. Similarly, in the third year, among those detained in both classes, a few are expected to drop out, while a few are expected to clear (be promoted to the next class). Thus, by the fourth year, this will ease out, making the number of detained students highest in the third year.”
At the same time, the Minister went on to add that the main aim of this policy was to improve the pass percentage of students by the time they take the GSEB SSC Board exams. If you take the pass percentage for the last 5 years, it is estimated between 63% to 67%. Nevertheless, going by the learning levels of government primary school students and as per the latest Mission Vidya Campaign aimed to improve the reading, writing and mathematical skills of students from classes 6 to 8 of Gujarat Board, the expected outcome has been bleak. As per the results of this campaign, there was only a 43% improvement in writing, while for reading, it was about 48%.
With this campaign, the state government was aiming to raise the learning levels of students from Class 6 to Class 8, who scored low in the latest Gunotsav VIII evaluation. Gunotsav is an annual evaluation drive of government primary schools, which is a mix of external and internal assessment of students and schools.