A bill to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act to abolish the 'no detention policy' in schools was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (second amendment) Bill, 2017, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said that it will be at the discretion of the states whether to continue with no detention or not.
The states, he said, will decide at what level and who will conduct the examination, the minister said.
"It is a broken education system. We have to rebuild our education system," he added.
Under the current provisions of the RTE Act, no student can be detained till class 8 and all students are promoted to the next grade.
The minister said that in some of the states like Sikkim, Kerala and Telangana, the students, who were studying in private schools, have come back to government schools.
"Teacher training, quality and accountability are most important," Javadekar said.
Stating that there was no shortages of teachers, the minister, however, added that the deployment of teachers was not right.
While moving the bill in the Lok Sabha, the minister said, "It is a very important legislation and a majority of state governments supported this Centre's proposal. It brings accountability in our elementary education system."
Referring to the no-detention policy in the Act, the Minister said, "schools have become only schools for mid-day meal as education and learning are missing".
This bill has also been analysed by the standing committee and the panel also recommended bringing back the concept of detention in schools, the Minister added.
The policy had been brought as it was felt that compelling children to repeat a class was demotivating, often forcing them to abandon school, he said.
This Bill provides for a regular examination in classes 5 and 8 and if the child fails, he or she shall be given an additional opportunity for re-examination in two months' time, Javadekar said.
Speaking on the bill, Congress MP KC Venugopal said that the proposed legislation lacks "clarity".
"This bill needs clarity. It should be clarified that whether the Centre or the states will conduct the exams," Venugopal said.
He also demanded a hike in the allocation for Centre's flagship programme Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan.
Echoing similar sentiments, BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said the government should form uniform guidelines for conducting exams and leave it to the state on how the exams should be conducted.
Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena and Saugat Roy of the TMC also lent support to the bill.
Sawant asked the government to focus on primary education.
Roy praised Javadekar for his "non-confrontationist" approach as he supported the bill.
Children often do not study if there are no exams, he said, adding that education system is currently in a bad shape and learning outcomes were going down due to non-detention policy.
"The education system is like an inverted pyramid and adequate focus has not been given to primary education," he said.
Supriya Sule of NCP also supported the bill and said the introduction of exams was necessary.
Prem Singh Chandumajra of Akali Dal and Sanjay Jaiswal of BJP also spoke in support of the Bill.
Several members demanded that teachers should also be made accountable for learning outcomes.