The rethink in the Centre about mandatory board exams and the no-detention policy at the school level portends well for education at large. The states are overwhelmingly in favour of reversing both. Though revoking the no-detention policy would need an amendment of the Right to Education Act 2010, making board exams mandatory—at the moment, Class X students can choose between a school-conducted exam and a board exam—can be done through an executive order.
Reversing the optional board exam policy would bring greater uniformity to evaluating students. It will also give students greater choice, as those opting for school examinations at the end of the year found it difficult to join other schools/colleges for intermediate courses, especially in states where the options for such institutions are few. The no-detention policy, given the sorry state of learning outcomes in government schools, highlighted by ASER reports from Pratham and OECD’s PISA surveys through the years, has clearly failed—students in Class V unable to do basic maths or reading means that their education remains incomplete, despite the government’s best intentions behind the Continuous Comprehensive Education policy. Besides, the mindless promotion of students to higher grades impairs their appetite for competition which they would inevitably face as they progress through the levels of learning. A reversal, therefore, would result in more competent, and competitive, students.