No Detention Policy

No Detention Policy: Critical Analysis

As stated by Pestalozzi, education is a constant process of development of innate powers of man which are natural, harmonious and progressive. Education act as one of the basic parameter for sustainable development of the nation as it helps in improving the human well-being and quality of life.

After independence time and again, government has given equal importance to education and finally it has been interpreted as Fundamental Right under Article 21 and Right to Education Act, 2009 has been notified to provide which envisages quality and compulsory education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years in neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education. It has also placed one of the most innovative clause of “No Detention Policy” which stated that “No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education’. Thus, the policy covers elementary stage of schooling covering classes 1 to 8”.

Rationale behind the Clause

The rationale behind placement of this clause is that:

  • The examinations are generally used as the system to check once educational status. The marks decide the level of education, however question arises – Does marks define once knowledge and wisdom? No… thus No detention Policy have been placed so that atleast a child may get minimum basic education.
  • Further examinations increases the power in hands of teachers and school administration and due to biasness and social stigma attached to the caste, culture and religion at ground level in India, examinations could have been used as the methodology of eliminating few classes and religion from accessing education. Thus No Detention Policy provides universal education system to all.
  • Due to failure in the examination, child either have to repeat the grade or leave the school altogether. Compelling a child to repeat a class is demotivating and discouraging. Repeating a class does not give the child motivation to study and learn better skills. Thus No Detention Policy aims at maintaining self-confidence of the students as their present mental state may define their future.
  • In India about two-third of the population lives in villages and parents are too illiterate. Due to this a child does not get educational environment and do badly in the exams. Hence they are detained in the class and tend to drop out making the right to education meaningless. Thus Provision of No Detention Policy reduces school dropout rates.
  • Each child has the same potential for learning, a ‘slow’, ‘weak’ learner or a ‘failed’ depends on the inadequacy of the learning environment and the delivery system. Thus we should address the main issue of quality of education rather than punishing child by detention because Child’s mind is very delicate, harsh punishments and strict educational policies could not provide him freedom to attain once potential.

However, “No detention” does not mean “no assessment” as the RTE Act has placed the provision ofContinuous and Comprehensive Evaluation Procedure. It is a developmental process of assessment which emphasizes on two fold objectives – continuity in evaluation and assessment of broad based learning and behavioral outcomes on the other. However, the implementation of this lies on teachers and school management but they have not been trained to implement CCE and use it to adapt teaching methods and improve learning levels.

Lacunas in No-Detention Policy

  • No-detention policy has led to students being promoted to next class without achieving the desired level learning for a class and being able to comprehend and follow the subject taught. It further results in unreasonable and undisciplined behaviour of students or their dropping out of school.
  • It led to a state of inattention to the teaching-learning process on the part of the children and has had an adverse impact on the regular attendance of students and teachers in schools.
  • It reduces the learning outcome of the child due to lack of competition.
The New Education Policy also stated that the no detention policy in schools should be applicable till Class V and exams be held from Class VI onwards. Academically weak students should be identified, based on CCE conducted by schools, for providing remedial instructions.


To meet this end, government has passed The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Salient Features of the Bill

  • The Bill amends this provision to state that a regular examination will be held in class 5 and class 8 at the end of every academic year. If a child fails the exam, he will be given additional instruction, and take a re-examination.
  • If he fails in the re-examination, the relevant central or state government may decide to allow schools to detain the child.

While several states have requested for a modification of the no-detention provision in the RTE Act, the provisions of the Bill are at variance with the views of several states with regard to assessing learning outcomes and detention.7

For example, with regard to conducting examinations, (i) Himachal Pradesh suggested internal examinations in class 3 and third party examination in classes 5 and 8, and (ii) Punjab and Odisha suggested that examinations should be conducted in every class from class 1 to class 8.

With regard to detention: (i) Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh suggested detention in class 3 as well, (ii) Delhi suggested detention from class 4 onwards, and (iii) Maharashtra and Telangana suggested continuing with the current no-detention provision under the RTE Act.7

The Bill amends the RTE Act to require a regular examination to be conducted in class 5 and class 8 at the end of the academic year in all schools.  However, the Bill does not specify who will administer the exam i.e., whether the exam will be conducted by the centre, or states, or the school.  Note that the provision in the Act that forbids a Board examination in elementary education has not been changed.

Conclusion and Way Forward

As per the above arguments, the learning outcome has been calculated in form of marks.  However, the Learning levels depend a lot on the other stakeholders–school environment, teachers, school infrastructure, hygiene, parents, etc.

Classroom format focuses on competing for marks and due to this rat race, the innocence and potential of student get fade away.  This shows that every stakeholder fails to fulfil one’s duty prescribed in the act and placed blame on the inattentiveness of children and weak examination system.

The removal of No Detention Policy hits girls and children from SC and ST communities, as a majority of low achievers who have secured less than 30% have been from SC, ST and OBC backgrounds.

The indirect consequences of moving from no detention to detention is likely to manifest as increase in child labour and incidences of child marriage  as well as, perhaps a lost opportunity for many children to have at least one nutritious meal in a day.

Due to fault of other stakeholders, the punishment cannot be placed at the innocent children.

Learning needs to be viewed comprehensively. It cannot be restricted only to cognitive development but must encompass physical, emotional, social and spiritual development.

All children need love, encouragement, and support, and such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.

The quality of education of the child determines the quality of life in nation.