Skip to main content

All-India protest against commercialization and communalization of education

By Prof Madhu Prasad, Dr Vikas Gupta*
The All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) organized on February 18 in Delhi a protest demonstration at Parliament Street, a nation-wide referendum on education policy, a People’s Parliament (Jan Sansad), and an evening of cultural resistance as part the full-day All-India Shiksha Hunkar Rally.
Thousands of students, teachers and education activists from across the country participated in the programme. They opposed the policy of privatization, commercialization and communalization of education.
They demanded public-funded free and equitable quality ‘common education system’ from KG to PG based on mother-tongue with social justice for Dalits, bahujans, adivasis, laboring masses, linguistic and religious minorities, transgenders, disabled, de-notified and nomadic tribes, especially girls.
The programme began with a protest demonstration at Sansad Marg addressed by Brinda Karat (CPI-M); Kavita Krishnan, CPI-ML (Liberation); N. Ramachandran, CPI-ML (Red Star), Dr Mrigank, CPI-ML (New Democracy); Prof Manoj Jha (Spokesperson, RJD); Prof Prem Singh, Socialist Party (India) and Sri Aflatoon, Samajwadi Jan Parishad; Prof Arun Kumar (JNU) alongside with AIFRTE Presidium Members Prof. Anil Sadgopal and Prof. G Haragopal.
Regretting his ability to attend, Chandrasekhar, leader of the Bhim Army, sent a message of support.
Effigies of many educational policies which are regarded by AIFRTE as leading to inequality and exclusion in education were burnt. A nation-wide referendum on educational policy has been floated by AIFRTE till March 18, 2019.
Thousands of ballot papers have been already submitted to the Referendum Commission comprising of Prof Manoranjan Mohanty (chairperson), Adv Sanjay Parikh, Adv Ashok Aggarwal, Dr Harjeet Singh Bhatti, Prof G Haragopal, Prof Madhu Prasad.
The primary analysis of trend demonstrates people’s aspiration for an egalitarian education system fully and directly funded by the state and free of all discrimination on the grounds of language, caste, class, gender, disability, ethnicity and religion.
The demonstration was followed by a People’s Parliament (Jan Sansad) at Ambedkar Bhawan presided by Prof Prabhat Patnaik, Prof. KM Shrimali, Prof K Chakradhar Rao, Prof Zhatsu Terhuja, Prof. Jagmohan Singh (great-grand nephew of Shahid Bhagat Singh) Sri Prabhakar Arade, Prof Anil Sadgopal and addressed by representatives of people’s movements.
The People’s Parliament adopted two resolutions. The first resolution condemned illegal arrest and the continuing threat of arrest on trumped-up charges against Prof Anand Teltumbde, member of AIFRTE Presidium. In the second resolution, AIFRTE demanded that any future government following the general elections to be held in April-May 2019 should reverse the trend of corporatization being followed at the command of World Trade Organization-General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO-GATS) in pursuit of the neo-liberal reforms policies promoting profit-making in education and contractualisation of services. It also unequivocally stated its opposition to communalization in education.
AIFRTE participants raised the slogan ‘Education is the People’s Right! It is not a commodity for Sale!’ AIFRTE opposed the model of PPP (Public Private Partnership), fee hikes, education loans, and discrimination between elite and ordinary institutions, which lead to exclusion of the mass of children and youth from access to equitable quality education.
AIFRTE demanded establishment of a nation-wide fully state-funded and entirely free Common System of Education from “KG to PG" to ensure the Fundamental Right to education for all children and youth. It demanded that the first step towards achieving this goal was to implement the Allahabad High Court judgment of August 2015 through a central legislation.
The judgement directed that all those who receive any form of pecuniary benefit from the State treasury must admit their children to the neighbourhood government school only, so that all children attend common schools all of which would be rapidly raised to the level of Kendriya Vidyalayas once the children of politicians, bureaucrats, business and the professional middle classes are also required to attend these schools.
This was followed by a programme of cultural resistance wherein cultural groups from several states presented performances giving expression to people’s angst against injustice and oppression and fascist-brahmanical- patriarchal attempts to impose cultural homogeneity.
---
*Presidium member, organising secretary, AIFRTE, respectively

Comments

TRENDING

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).