A Bengaluru school, St Joseph Chaminade Academy, has “failed” a six-year-old child in Upper KG for not being able to recite two rhymes in her semester exams.
The aghast parents consulted the St Joseph Chaminade Academy school authorities only to be told that if the child was told she had “failed”, she would perform well in the future.
“We were shocked to see my daughter’s semester marks card on the school app. She managed to score a total of 100 out of 160. But she scored only five out of 40 in rhymes while the minimum passing mark was 14,” explained the girl’s father Manoj Badal, a bank manager by profession.
The parents’ ordeal
Badal told South First that his daughter had been studying at the St Joseph Chaminade Academy school in Deepahalli of the Anekal Taluk in Bengaluru since 2022.
Manoj and his wife, who is a software engineer, are from Bihar and moved to Bengaluru only last year.
“She is our only child and is very bright in her studies. If you see her marks card, you can see that she scored 31 out of 40 in English, 35 out of 40 in Maths, and 28 out of 40 in EVS. Even rhymes she would recite in front of us at home and in front of the rhymes teacher, but she, unfortunately, could not recite during her oral test,” Badal said.
Badal and his wife were shocked by the marks and approached the school. While his wife met the class teacher, he spoke to the principal as well as the managing trustee of the school.
Initially, a WhatsApp communication and an email were shared by Badal requesting the principal to look into the matter.
St Joseph Chaminade Academy clarifies
In his message, to the school, Badal said that his daughter had been “officially declared Fail”, which is causing “psychological trauma” to him and his wife, and hence the result had not been conveyed to the child.
“Your class teacher, coordinator and rhyme teacher are explaining contrary to one another, resulting into various doubts [sic],” he wrote, requesting the principal to look into the details and find a solution as per the school board’s policy.
To this, the principal responded, “Dear Parent, according to the teacher who teaches rhymes, the student did not recite the rhymes at the exam time. The teacher had given her 2 opportunities to recite the rhymes and she did not recite at both times. Therefore, the teacher has given the minimum mark for appearing for the exam [sic].”
Principal Bro Saju Chittadiyil Augusty added that the exam results in the mobile app were set up to show any student as “Fail” even if they had failed one subject. The child would “Pass” only if they scored 35 percent or above in all subjects.
“If a child fails one subject, we may ‘promote’ them to the next class,” he also said.
The principal added that the school had “set up the progress report with good intention” and could not change it to suit “your personal need”.
However, the physical progress report card did not indicate that the child had failed.
“The overall grade at the physical card is given taking the overall percentage,” read the message, Badal told South First.
The principal concluded: “Therefore, if you don’t want to show your child that she has failed then you can show her the physical progress report. But we would recommend that you show the progress report from the mobile app and explain to her that she did not recite the rhyme at the exam and she has failed for that subject [sic].”
Irked parent takes to social media
The email communication, which was made available to South First by the parents, showed that Badal tried his best to request the school to change the progress card as the word “Fail” could cause emotional damage to the child and also was distressing for the parents.
The St Joseph Chaminade Academyschool’s Managing Trustee Sudhir Kujur eventually replied to Badal, saying he understood the parents’ concerns.
He also clarified that the school did not detain any student till Standard 8.
Kujur also said that the reason to mark the student “fail” was to let all the stakeholders know that the child needed to improve in that particular subject.
However, irked with the responses, the parent took to social media and put out a Facebook post seeking attention from the CISCE and also the Karnataka education minister.
“The state education department and the CISCE should look into this issue. How can they expect a six-year-old to understand what is fail or pass? Isn’t this psychologically traumatic for my child? What do we tell my child who is repeatedly asking if I have passed or failed?” asked Badal.
Violation of RTE Act by St Joseph Chaminade Academy
The Associated Managements of English Medium Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) president D Shashikumar told South First, the school could not use the words “Pass” or “Fail” as per the pedagogy. Also, the child could not be marked but instead had to be graded only.
“As per the Right To Education Act, there is no question of ‘Failing’ the child. The word ‘Fail’ cannot be used as per the pedagogy. It can be communicated using any other terminology. A negative connotation cannot be used to inform the child’s performance. Also, the child cannot be given marks and instead has to be graded only under the RTE Act,” said Shashikumar.
When South First contacted the school, the principal replied: “The word ‘fail’ has been mentioned in the software that the school is using. Once the parent made known this issue to us, we asked the software company to remove the word ‘Fail’ from the progress report.”
He added: “The concerned software people are working on it. Even today, I have reminded them to do it on a priority basis. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused due to this.”