ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Enabling Learning

The multilayered polemics of no-detention provision (NDP) in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 are at the centre of contemporary debates concerning changes to the legal framework for elementary school education. Gunjan Sharma’s “Reversing the Twin Ideals of Right to Education: No Detention and Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation” (EPW, 27 February 2016) highlights how overturning this provision will hurt the “legal framework of the educational guarantee” as children who are detained would eventually opt out of the school.

On educational grounds the case for NDP is unequivocal. As academic activists point out, the purpose of assessing children’s learning is to further education rather than promotion to the next grade. Theory and research in psychology of learning even within the extrinsic reinforcement centric behavioural approach has decades ago concluded that punishment(s) cause emotional injuries without improving learning outcomes. There is no research, nationally or internationally, correlating detention with better learning achievement which would have made a case for improved learning on repetition of a grade. Or for that matter, research that relates learning positively with the fear of being detained. On the other hand, great educators in the Indian and Western tradition have argued that children are inherently educable and will learn on their own if fear-free and democratic conditions are provided.

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