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'No detention policy in schools up to states'

Kolkata, July 25 (IANS) The HRD Ministry on Tuesday asserted that the decision to scrap the “no-detention policy” for Classes 5 to 8 was taken in consultation with states and the final call to execute the amendment will be taken by them.

“It was done with state governments’ consensus… this is how it should be. I would not like to comment on what he (Bengal Education Minister) said. Everyone was consulted,” Human Resource Development Ministry Secretary Anil Swarup (Department of School Education and Literacy) told the media here.

He was asked about the West Bengal government’s claim that the Centre is “thrusting policies” on states without consultations.

“The states will have the option to decide whether they want to detain or not to detain. The present rule says you can’t detain. So, we will end this. The decision will be up to the states.”

“Majority of states were in favour of detention. If one or two states do not want to, then they will do that under the federal structure,” Swarup said.

The current “no detention” provision under Right To Education (RTE) Act, prohibits schools from detaining or expelling any student up to Class 8.

“It does not mean you can’t take exams, it’s about detaining a student,” the official clarified in reference to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee recently said: “They (Centre) didn’t consult us before tabling the Bill (no-detention) in the Lok Sabha. They are creating confusion over pass-fail policy. They are playing to the galleries. We condemn the attempt to thrust on us policies without consultation.”

Asked on Dina Nath Batra — the head of the Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas, an RSS affiliated outfit — recommending removal of Urdu and Arabic words and work of some famous writers like Rabindranath Tagore and Ghalib from NCERT textbooks, Swarup said no decision has been taken on the issue.

“I don’t think there is any such proposal. These reports keep coming. You and I can’t stop a discussion in Parliament. Let discussion happen, when decision happens, I will tell you. I don’t recall having seen it — it may have come to the office,” he said.

West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress has raised strong objection in Parliament to the suggestions of dropping of Rabindranath Tagore from NCERT textbooks.

While CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has also vehemently opposed the suggestions, party MP Ritabrata Banerjee has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the Centre refrain from implementing them.

On the Prime Minister’s Office asking the HRD Ministry to incorporate some aspects of Sainik Schools in regular schools, Swarup said: “There can’t be mandate to do this. Some schools can imbibe good aspects of Sainik School like discipline. If it happens in some schools, then no harm done. It is just being discussed.”

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