People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 07, 2007
AIFUTO To Formulate National Policy On Higher Education
HELD at Chennai from December 1 to 3, the twenty-fifth annual academic conference of the All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisations (AIFUCTO) released the draft of a paper on an alternative policy on higher education. The movement resolution issued at the conclusion of the three-day conference points out that implementation of the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG) by government of India since the early nineties has transformed the field of education into a battleground of conflicting interests. A characteristic feature of this controversy is the preference given to excellence over equity by projecting equity and excellence as irreconcilable dichotomies. Entitled “Share Knowledge; Share Development,” the policy draft of the AIFUCTO argues that equity and excellence in higher education are indivisible imperatives of national development. The AIFUCTO press release said the draft policy would be discussed, debated and modified by incorporating suggestions from academics and larger public across the country and adopted by the organisation within six months. The AIFUCTO would then launch a countrywide campaign for implementation of the alternative policy.
The movement resolution took note of the continuing efforts by the state to withdraw from all vital sectors, including higher education, leaving space for local and foreign private players with the objective of commodifying and commercialising education. While welcoming the UPA’s NCMP with regard to allocation of 6 percent of GDP for education, the AIFUCTO strongly resented the lack of political will as evident from just 0.4 percent increase in GDP allocation in 2005-06, taking the overall investment to less than 3.6 percent of GDP. The AIFUCTO also criticised the central government for its failure to enact a central legislation in regard to the 86th constitution amendment on the right to education. The movement resolution pointed out that abdication of fiscal responsibility and lack of sensitivity to federal ethos on part of the central government is clear from its insistence that the state assemblies must pass the “Model Right to Education Bill 2006” and states must bear a part of the expenditure for implementing the scheme on the terms dictated by the central government.
The AIFUCTO has resolved to hold a huge rally in New Delhi during the budget session of the parliament to demonstrate its strong objections to the failure of the central government to allot 6 percent of GDP for education and to legislate on free and compulsory education. It will also press the demand that the central government must constitute a full-fledged National Commission For Education on the model of the Kothari commission to address the constitutional commitments to democracy and social justice in the context of the new challenges in education.
The March To Parliament will be held on March 12, 2007.
The AIFUCTO also called upon all its affiliates to take part in the national strike on December 14 along with the organisations of central and state government employees, teachers and workers on the 16-point charter of demands. (The strike has since then taken place.) The AIFUCTO demanded that UGC must constitute a pay review committee at the earliest. The AIFUCTO further demanded payment of interim relief and introduction of the new pay scales from January 1, 2006.
More than a thousand delegates representing about a hundred affiliating organisations took part in the national academic conference.