The amendment gives discretion to state governments to decide whether or not to allow holding back of students until completion of elementary education.
The Lok Sabha has passed a Bill to amend the Right To Education Act ( Right of Children To Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009), to relax the absolute prohibition against holding back a student up to class VII. Section 16 of the principal Act states that no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education. ‘Elementary education’ is defined as education from class one to class eight, as per Section 2(f).
The amendment bill substitutes present Section 16 wholly with a new provision. The new provision states that there should be regular examination in class five and class eight at the end of every academic year. It further states that additional opportunity for a student failing in such regular examination has to be provided within two months from the date of declaration of result. Furthermore, state governments are given the power to allow schools to hold back a student in class five or class eight, if he fails in the re-examination. It is also clarified that the governments are at liberty to decide to not to hold back a student in any class till the completion of elementary education. Thus, the amendment gives discretion to state governments to decide whether or not to allow holding back of students until completion of elementary education.
However, the amendment has not disturbed the original prohibition against expulsion of a student till completion of elementary education. It is explicitly stated in the substituted provision that no child shall be expelled from school till the completion of elementary education.
Section 38 of the principal Act, which gives rule-making power to state governments, is amended to enable rule-making to prescribe the conditions and manner of holding back.
It is mentioned in the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill that States and Union territories have been raising the issue of adverse effect on the learning levels of children as section 16 does not allow holding back of children in any class till the completion of elementary education.
Applying Section 16 of the principal Act, courts have held that no student can be detained upto class VIII for any reason, and that a child has right to promotion until eighth standard even in unaided minority educational institutions. This position will undergo change, if the amendment bill passed by the Lok Sabha on July 18 gets approval from the Rajya Sabha as well.