Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani announced on Wednesday after the first meeting of the newly appointed Central Advisory Board on Education that they are considering revoking the infamous ‘no-fail’ policy in schools, and that there was a broad consensus among all states governments for doing so.
The ill-conceived ‘no-fail’ policy was forced down the throats of students, teacher and parents by former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal as a part of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system of the Righ to Education act in 2010. According to the policy, no student in any school in India can be failed till class 8. The goal of such a policy was to reduce dropout rates in schools and encourage students to stay in school at least till class 8.
The no-fail policy was a colossal failure.
Instead of encouraging few students stay back in school, it ended up encouraging all students to take it easy and not bother about learning at all.
Don’t get the wrong idea, we have written earlier about the depressing culture of exam pressure on students – so the intentions behind the no-fail policy were indeed good. But the road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions. To do away with all kinds of assessments instead of streamlining the system to make learning easy and fun for students was a bad move and a major failure.
There is a near consensus on this among parents and teachers, in fact some students too.
“That was one of the worst decisions taken by the government,” says a teacher from a Kendriya Vidyalaya on conditions of anonymity, “Students do not know anything by the time they come to class 8. Then what do we teach them and how do we bring them up to speed?”
With no incentive to pass, students developed a lethargic attitude towards academics and exams, and did not bother learning anything. Several teachers and parents have also complained that this has reduced the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ students.
Learning levels have been falling drastically too. Over the years, since 2010, the Annual Status of Education Report by NGO Pratham has consistently shown falling learning levels. The learning levels of children in Mathematics, English and even vernacular languages have fallen.
Anecdotal evidence shows that several children are not able to even write their own names after attending class 5. There is stagnation in learning, and when the students are suddenly exposed to exam pressure in class 9, there are several failures. “We try to be very lenient in class 9, even then so many fail. What can we do? We either have to go by the rules or fail students,” asks the KV teacher.
Here is a detailed interview with a psychologist on the failure of the policy which shows how it has only hurt children.
This is dangerous. For the past 4 years or so, we have been systematically making children dumber. One can only imagine the negative impact it is going to have on their lives and the quality of our future work force.
Several states have been calling for a review of the policy and the return of assessments from lower classes in a phased manner.
The NDA government too seems to be inclined towards revoking the policy. They Centre has asked the states to respond with comments within 15 days.
The Union government must move an amendment to the RTE and revoke the ‘no fail’ policy as soon as possible so that one more year of students’ lives are not wasted.