Monday January 21, 2019
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The no detention policy in schools needs to go away. Now.

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By Harshmeet Singh

Gone are those days when you could encourage the kids to study harder by telling them that they would fail if they don’t study hard. The ‘no detention upto class 8th’ policy was perhaps one of the most contentious provisions of the Right to Education Act. Though several voices have been raised against this provision, it is still alive and applicable. The purpose behind introducing this policy was to give a push to the holistic development of students and to keep a check on the dropout rates. But the declining levels of reading and writing across the country point towards an entirely different story.

By protecting our students against a probable failure, we are letting go of the chance to prepare them for the tougher times to come, both in and outside the school. The students are being made to believe that lack of inputs would still give them what they wish to achieve. In 2012, a committee of CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education) was formed to look into the feasibility of continuing the no detention policy.

The committee stated, “We need to stop, re-assess and then move forward. At this stage, it would be prudent to reiterate the need for assessment of the learning outcomes, and make it consequential by linking it to promotion or otherwise to the next class beyond grade 5”. It also supported the view that degrading learning levels is one of the negative consequences of this policy.

Promoting the child to the next class while his or her knowledge base isn’t good enough is disastrous. The RTE act has tried its best to retain kids in the school, without ensuring that their purpose of attending a school is fulfilled. Since the policy only extends up till class 8th, most of the students are ill prepared to handle the rigor of classes 9th and 10th.

Most of the government school teachers seem to be content with the no detention policy. The no detention policy means that even if they don’t teach anything to the students, they will still maintain a clean track record of 100% students passing the grade. A drop in the teaching standards can be attributed to this ill-conceived provision.

Interesting, the act even fails to mandate a minimum attendance for the students to the eligible for the next grade. So even if a student shows up for 30 days in the entire year, he or she will still be promoted to the next class. In such a scenario, how would you encourage the students to take their studies seriously?

In government primary schools, the implications of this policy are all the more weird. The students, who aren’t taught anything all year long, have no option but to leave the answer sheet blank in the final examinations. The teachers, in order to justify the final results, fill up the answer sheets of the students themselves! And this is how a student who can’t read a class 2nd text reaches class 8th and inflates the literacy rate of the country!

With no academic requirement needed from the student’s end to pass on to a new class, the Right to Education should more aptly be named as the Right to attend school.

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India Needs to Improve its Educational Outcomes to Catch up with China

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes

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The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
India needs to improve its educational outcomes to catch up with China. Pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

abroad, study
Representational image.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

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While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)