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Test-less primary schools under glare

- Panel: Most institutions not following evaluation system under Right to Education

New Delhi, Sept. 9: A government-appointed panel has warned against schoolchildren being promoted till Class VIII without any sort of testing or special coaching to cover their weaknesses, a trend now found in most state-run schools.

The panel headed by National Advisory Council member N.C. Saxena, which reviewed the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, has found that most government elementary schools are not following the system of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) prescribed by the Right To Education Act.

The act says children cannot be held back in any class till they complete Class VIII, and does away with annual exams. Instead, it provides for the CCE, a system under which tests are held every three months in curricular as well as extra-curricular subjects such as dancing, music and sports.

The idea is not to grade the children but to find out each child’s weaknesses so that extra care and coaching can be given to her in that subject.

“Unfortunately, the CCE is not being followed in the schools. If a child is promoted without any tests or remedial measures to bridge his or her learning deficiencies, the child may lose interest in the next class,” Saxena told The Telegraph.

Saxena’s report stresses the need to correct the misconception that the Right To Education Act has abolished all tests and that children may be promoted without having achieved appropriate learning levels.

A child promoted by default every year without her learning gaps being plugged may not be able to keep pace in the next class and will be likely to drop out after Class VIII, the committee report says.

This especially applies to the first-generation school-goers at municipal and rural schools whose parents cannot afford private coaching. “The special care concept is hardly happening in any government school,” Saxena said.

The 12-member committee has asked the human resource development ministry to provide enough resources and training to government schools so that they can carry out the CCE and offer extra coaching where necessary. The report was submitted last month.

Several MPs too had raised the issue in Parliament during the last budget session. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad had said that rural schools were not holding any tests, thus encouraging their pupils to become casual about their studies. This, he alleged, was a conspiracy against rural children.

Jharkhand Vikash Morcha leader Ajay Kumar and Tarun Mandal, an independent MP from Bengal, too had expressed concern at schoolchildren being promoted without tests.