Resolution on education by the All-India Forum for Right To Education (AIFRTE), which took out Shiksha Hunkar Rally in Delhi on February 18, 2019:
The crisis in Education has resulted from the failure of successive Central and state governments to strategically plan, and financially and administratively invest in creating the necessary infrastructure to achieve the Constitutional directive for providing free and compulsory education for all children aged “up to 14 years” by 1960. Despite restating the Constitutional goal in policy documents, access to education was in fact denied to the deprived sections and the education system stagnated instead of expanding to meet the needs of the nation’s children and youth.
Failure to implement land reforms and the continuance of the pernicious caste system remain deep-rooted causes of the persistent inequality and social injustice that are also reflected in the education system. A critical phase was reached after Government’s formal adoption of neoliberal reforms policy in 1991. Education was rapidly privatized.
Knowledge became a saleable commodity and learning was reduced to the acquiring of “marketable skills” which serve the requirements of domestic and international finance capital. Today the Constitutional mandate of equality and social justice have been denigrated and education policies and governmental `initiatives’ are openly promoting and sanctioning
- Exclusion through privatization, commercialization and corporatization which have put education out of reach of the eighty-five per cent oppressed and marginalized sections of the population;
- Authoritarianism through loss of academic autonomy and enforcing anti-democratic forms of governance in educational institutions;
- Indoctrination through communal and irrational prejudices, superstition and socially divisive ideologies that promote hatred against oppressed castes, minorities, tribes, women, transgenders and the disabled.
This has spread rapidly and violently since the RSS-BJP led Hindutva ideologues have acquired state power and begun to openly implement their idea of Hindu “supremacy” and “Hindu Rashtra”. Policy-making is now centralized in the PMO, a strategy advocated by the World Bank to corporatize education and health as demanded by the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO-GATS).
This intentionally undermines national sovereignty, bypasses Parliament and endangers the basic federal structure of the Constitution. To this end, providing grants to colleges and universities is being replaced by institutions being forced to take loans from the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA).
Scholarships at both school and university levels are being restricted or withdrawn. The most vulnerable sections are the SC, ST, OBC and Muslims, 90% of whom are already denied access to higher education. Skill development as an alternative for these sections from Class V onwards will push them back to caste based employment and increase deprivation by driving them to child labour and lowlypaid work options.
The present Central government has not produced an education policy for public debate even after setting up two commissions. Only the RSS continues to “advise” the Ministry on the retrogressive features that are being implemented in educational institutions to produce “student-patriots” who conform to its brand of “Hindu nationalism”.
The PMO-appointed NITI Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda (2017-18 to 2019-20) is an onslaught on the education system. School education will see a withdrawal of necessary inputs and absence of trained faculty which are required to encourage creative learning. Instead it plans to reach pre-determined “outcomes” by increasing supervision and bureaucratic governance.
Merger and closure of government schools further depletes access. Elitism in higher education is to be achieved through graded autonomy allowing selected institutions to fix fees, salaries and courses. The rest of the existing institutions which cater to lakhs of students will suffer deterioration and neglect as has already been the case with the mass of non-special government schools.
This will reserve higher education for upper class/ castes. Access to Medical education through the centralized NEET exam will benefit coaching centres, deny access to local and less well-off students and starve state-level health services.
We therefore demand that any future Government
- withdraw the Draft Higher Education Commission of India Bill, National Medical Council Bill, which have not been brought before Parliament;
- repeal HEFA and the National Testing Agency, Graded Autonomy etc., and stop all forms of Public Private Partnership (PPP), that commercialize education ;
- scrap 13-point roster that endangers social justice reservations;
- remove all administrative measures to suppress freedom of thought, expression, faith and organization;
- revert to no-detention policy up to Class VIII;
- ban Child labour till 14 yrs of age. We resolve to resist these measures and strive to establish a nation-wide, fully state-funded and entirely free Common Education System from “K.G. to P.G.” to ensure the Fundamental Right to Education for all India’s children and youths.
- Implement Allahabad High Court Judgement of August 2015 (all who receive any form of pecuniary benefit from state treasury must enrol their children in local government school) throughout the country;
- Make Mother tongue the medium of education. Teach other languages, including English, through competent faculty;
- No official, non-school related work to be given to government school teachers;
- No contractualization of faculty positions in schools or in higher education;
- Invest 10% of GDP in education until the deficit that has mounted since previous years is covered.
Resolution on “illegal” arrest and the continuing “threat of arrest on trumped-up charges” against Prof Anand Teltumbde, member of the presidium, AIFRTE:
The students, teachers and activists gathered here strongly protest against the shocking illegal arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde from Mumbai airport on 3rd February 2019 after the Pune court rejected his application for anticipatory bail even though the Supreme Court had given him protection till 11th February 2019.
This action shows blatant political interference in the democratic right of Anand Teltumbde, Senior Professor and Chair, Big Data Analytics in GIM, noted scholar of caste-class and public policy issues, leading Public Intellectual and Democratic and Educational Rights Activist, to protection of his civil liberties and rights.
The Maharashtra state government and the Central government, both in the hands of the Hindutva-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), were unnerved by the powerful protest of Dalits at the 200th anniversary of the battle against the Peshwas at Bhima-Koregaon.
Hindutva leaders and agent provocateurs, Milind Ekbote of Samastha Hindutva Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishan, instigated violent disruption and precipitated police action against the massive gathering on January 1, 2018. Hindutva goons mounted attacks by stone pelting, beating people and burning stalls, but a complicit administration allowed riots to happen.
Many Dalits were injured, their vehicles damaged, and stalls burnt down. Instead of taking action against these goons and their leaders, the police fabricated trumped up “evidence” and used the draconian UAPA to charge and detain several well-known civil rights activists for being part of a plot by “urban Maoists” to destabilize the Indian state.
Countrywide condemnation and protests have been held against this obviously politically motivated “conspiracy theory” against those who stand in defence of the democratic rights of the oppressed. Prof Teltumbde is the latest victim of this contemptible ‘conspiracy theory’ concocted by the police at the behest of their political masters.
- We, students, teachers, activists and members of several democratic organizations, register our anger against such anti-democratic acts and resolve to firmly resist the Hindutva-led forces which are pushing India towards a dictatorial, fascist and anti-constitutional regime.
- We demand immediate release and protection of all citizens and civil rights activists from such antidemocratic actions.
- We demand the repeal of the UAPA, which allows persons to be detained without bail for six months.