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Niti Aayog has called for review of provisions of Right To Education Act that stipulate that children who don’t perform well can’t be held back up to class 8.
The good intention behind the norm is detrimental to the learning process.
Niti Aayog has also suggested a system where direct benefit transfers offer the poor a choice between subsidised purchases or equivalent cash to buy their requirements from private suppliers.
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, which aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6-14 years, stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the eighth grade. This means that a child is entitled to an eighth grade diploma even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school.
The purpose behind this provision is to minimise the drop-out rate, since demoralisation resulting from failing a class leads to children withdrawing from school altogether.
But despite this good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete.
According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, one of the largest non-governmental household survey, proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96 % for past 6 years.
Real problem is quality of education as measured by student achievements. The ASER report finds that more than 50 per cent of the fifth graders cannot read second standard level text.
Even more disconcerting, the trend between 2010 and 2014 has been worsening instead of improving performance.
Aayog pointed out that Public Distribution System suffers from substantial leakages and there is an urgent need to look into avenues to eliminate them.