People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 34

August 22, 2010



Fight Centralisation and

Commercialisation of Education

V S Nidhin


A NATIONWIDE struggle around the central slogan “Stop Centralisation, Privatisation and Commercialisation; Save and Strengthen Public Education” will be launched soon. As part of this struggle, a massive rally will be held on December 2, 2010 in ....... involving all stakeholders like students, teachers, non teaching employees, and officers of schools, colleges & universities, youth, parents, people’s science movement etc in order to force the central government to change its anti-student, anti-people policies in the field of education.


This was decided at a National Convention on Education organised jointly by students, teachers, university employees, youth and popular science movements of the country in New Delhi on August 13, 2010. A presidium comprising V Sivadasan, Amit, Asha, Aritra Chatterjee and Asok Barman was elected to conduct the proceedings of the convention. Rajendran, general secretary of STFI, delivered the welcome address.


The convention focused on defeating the anti-education policies of the UPA-II government and voiced the just demands, among which included the spending of at least 6 per cent of GDP on education, covering education up to XII class under the Right to Education Act, stopping commercialisation of education, no to foreign and private universities and centralisation of education, bringing private educational institutions under social control and ensuring social justice.


Ritabrata Banerjee, general secretary of SFI, introduced the draft resolution of the convention on behalf of the organising committee which noted that the assault on education has reached such a level that the very existence of the public funded education is in danger. It further stated, “All the policies of the UPA-II government are aimed at pushing commercialisation, centralisation, and privatisation of the education sector in the country.” The resolution made a detailed critique of the present education scenario of the country and formulated  a 14-point Demand Charter.


The convention was greeted by Sitaram Yechury, former president of SFI and MP. While presenting a vision for a new India in his speech, Yechury made a scathing criticism of the devastating effect of the policies of UPA-II government on education. He said “the policies of the government at the centre created a situation where in there is no alternative left to the students and other stakeholders but to fight and this fight will receive widespread support among all sections of the people.” He exposed the class bias of the education policies of the UPA II and showed how they were elite oriented and urban centred.


Sudarshan Roy Chowdhary, minister for higher education in the government of West Bengal,  made a detailed analysis of the policies of the central government and its implications for the Indian education system. He also expressed grave concern over the Foreign Educational Institutes (FEI) Bill and other Bills which are pending. He gave a sharp critique of the present miserable state of higher education and proposed a radical perspective for immediate and long term changes in the present system. 


D Raja, MP, in his speech warned the government that the “hopes and aspirations of the people must be taken into account while formulating policies. The indications however are not only disappointing but dangerous.” Abani Roy, MP, Dr Barun Mukherjee MP, and  Soumen Chattopadhyay also addressed the convention.


Professor Prabhat Patnaik, in his analytical speech, exposed the present state of affairs of the education sector of the country. He outlined the political agenda of the reforms initiated by the government. Focusing on the necessity of maintaining the intellectual self reliance of the country, he said, “Education as a whole is not serving the true interest of the country. Are we giving education or are we merely imparting skills? Can technical brilliance alone lead to professional or social commitment? The answer is in the negative. The private universities and educational institutions flourish at the expense of the vast masses of people.” He exposed the basic reasons and class politics behind the reforms in the field of education. 


The leaders of all the seventeen member organisations of the organising committee of the convention also spoke on the occasion. The seventeen organisations of the committee are: Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF), All India Students Block (AISB), Progressive Students Union (PSU), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), All India Youth Federation (AIYF), Revolutionary Youth Front (RYF),  All India Youth League (AIYL), School Teachers’ Federation of India (STFI), All India Federation of University College Teachers Organisation (AIFUCTO), Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF), All India University Employees Confederation (AIUEC), All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN), Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) and All India Parents’ Association (AIPA).



Charter of Demands


Below is the fourteen point Demand Charter which was part of the resolution of the convention:

1. Allocate 6 per cent GDP for Education as committed in the NCMP of the UPA-I Government.

2. Include pre-primary to senior secondary education under the purview of the Right to Education. Central government should bear all the expenditure for implementing the Right to Education. Increase the number of schools along with strong social monitoring mechanism involving local stake holders.

3. Recruit quality teachers on a permanent basis. Remove the freeze on appointments and cuts in teaching and non teaching positions.

4. Oppose handing over of public educational institutions’ infrastructure and management to the private sector in the name of Private Public Partnership.

5. Reject fee hike. Fully subsidise students from economically backward and disadvantaged backgrounds.

6. Enact a central legislation to bring all private self financing institutions under strict social control.

7. Implement constitutionally mandated SC/ST/OBC reservations in all educational institutions.

8. Fight all attempts to undermine the democratic control of the parliament, state assemblies and statutory structures of Universities and Colleges (including through instruments like NCHER). Fight against centralisation of education.

9. Oppose FDI in education.

10. Scrap the FEI Bill and suitably amend the other recently introduced Bills.

11. Scrap private universities and deemed university status to private institutions.

12. Use information technology for Distance Education to provide universal life long quality education. Do not commercialise distance education.

13. Undertake Assessment for improvement, not Accreditation or Funding. Evolve a democratic and transparent mechanism for assessment.

14. Uphold democratic rights in the sphere of education. Hold elections for Students’ Unions, Teaching and Non-Teaching Associations. Provide elected representation in all decision making bodies.