New Delhi : The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the apex body giving direction to the school education in India since 1961, has finally stood up in support of the crucial provision of “no detention” in any class up to Class VIII under  the Right to Education (RTE) Act enacted in 2009 that envisages free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years.

After all the RTE is its baby and it is supposed to be advising the government on school education. It, therefore, felt compelled to rush to the Human Resources Development Ministry to desist from its attempt to delete the “no detention” clause from the Act enacted during the UPA regime through an administrative order and not even an amendment by Parliament.

Just as the ministry was awaiting the Law Ministry”s response on the administrative order it sent in August for approval to remove that clause without brooding any further delay, NCERT director Hrushikesh Senapaty warned against the hasty step, asserting that there is nothing wrong in the “no detention” clause and it came under disrepute because of the faulty implementation.

HRD Ministry sources, however, said her objection has come too late when the ministry has made up its mind to remove the clause that requires automatic promotion of students up to Class VIII. They said majority of the 22 state education ministers, who attended a meeting convened in March by then HRD Minister Smriti Irani for closed-door consultation on the new national education policy, also pressed for scrapping the “no detention” clause, so as to detain the students whose performance is not upto the mark in a particular class.

Back in 2013, a Parliamentary standing committee had also asked the government to drop the policy of automatic promotions up to class VIII while the former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian committee that formulated the new national policy also suggested that the “no detention” policy should be discontinued at least after Class V, a recommendation that also received approval by the Advisory Board of Education.

The HRD Ministry wants to go by the state education ministers” demand to scrap the provisions of “no detention” altogether but it may have to rethink in view of the spanner thrown in by the NCERT director who took over in November 2015. She was earlier the head of the NCERT”s Regional Institute of Education in Bhopal.

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