The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that does away with the no-detention policy mentioned in the law. The House also passed the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill. The Lok Sabha had passed the two bills in July during the Budget Session.

The motion to pass the bill was accepted by voice vote. Union minister for Human Resources Development Prakash Javadekar’s motion to amend the name of the bill to reflect that it was passed in 2019 was also accepted by voice vote.

The existing policy under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, prohibits schools from detaining students till they complete elementary education. The no-detention policy banned the practice of making under-performing children repeat classes in elementary school to ensure they do not drop out. It was meant to reduce the emphasis on year-end examinations and replace it with a form of evaluation that would track students’ progress through the year.

Now, states can choose to hold a regular examination either at the end of Classes 5 and 8, or both. Students who fail this test will received additional instructions and the opportunity to appear for a re-examination within two months of the declaration of the result. If the students still do not pass the exam, the state government may decide to detain them.

However, if states choose, they can continue the no-detention policy till Class 8. No child can be expelled from school before they complete elementary education, the amendment bill states.

The proposed amendment was introduced in August 2017 and referred to a Standing Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The committee presented its report to both the Houses of Parliament in February, endorsing the amendment bill in the present form it was passed.