(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 24, 2010
Convention against Commercialisation,
Centralisation of Education
Vinod Deshwal & Mukesh Kumari
ON October 10, several mass organisations including the Students Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Janwadi Mahila Samiti (JMS), Haryana Government Teachers Association, Haryana Gyan Vigyan Samiti (HGVS), Parents Forum, Al India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), organised a convention at Rohtak in defence of public education. The purpose was to generate awareness against the onslaught of privatisation, commercialisation and centralisation of education in the state and the country.
convention took place
in response to the call given by the national convention, that had
Former Haryana education minister Professor Shyam Chand, School Teachers Federation of India’s national treasurer Satyapal Siwach, Dr Mahasbir Sharma, Dr Rajendra Chaudhari, Dr Nilima Dahiya, Dr Jagmati Sangwan, Dr R S Dahiya, Master Wazeer Singh, Jai Bhagwan, Atar Singh, Dinesh Siwach, Vinod Deshwal, Rajkumari Dahiya, Subhash Lamba, Advocate O P Sharma, Mangat Ram Shastri and HGVS state secretary Sohan Das were the main speakers at the convention. Search and Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) organised a books exhibition on this occasion in order to popularise the progressive literature in the state.
Dr R S Dahiya (senior physician at the PGIMS), Advocate O P Sharma, Dr Subhash Chandra, Master Balbeer Singh, SFI state secretary Manoj Kumar and JMS state secretary Savita constituted the presidium that conducted the proceedings.
Moving the main resolution at the convention, Satyapal Siwach pointed out that while the UPA had promised to effect far-reaching changes in education after coming back to power, nothing like that has taken place even after a lapse of one year and a half. In fact, instead of effecting pro-people reforms in Indian education, the government is implementing the LPG policies in the field and thus depriving an ever increasing section of the people of education. A seven member commission called the NCHER has been imposed the realm of higher education, in order to take it out of parliamentary scrutiny, so that the government might push its neo-liberal agenda here with impunity. The government is out to facilitate the entry of foreign universities in the country in order to commercialise our education system. The convention’s resolution pointed out that the UPA regime has totally gone back upon its promise to spend 6 per cent of GDP and 10 per cent of union budget on education even though the whole education sector, including higher education, is facing a severe resource crunch. While the central government pushed through the parliament the Right to Education Bill for the sake of children in the 6-14 age group, the bill made the state governments responsible for mobilising resources for the purpose; the centre thus unashamedly gave up its responsibility in this regard. On the other hand, the fund made available for implementing the Right to Education Act is being handed over to private hands in the name of public-private partnership (PPP). The centre is also striving to bring education out of the concurrent list and put it in the union list in the name of abolition Class 10 exams and creation of a single board for Class 12. (One recalls that education was transferred from the state list to the concurrent list during the authoritarian Emergency regime in the mid-1970s.) On its part, the Congress government of Haryana is faithfully toeing the central policies without any qualm of conscience. It is promoting the opening of private institutions in the name of encouraging higher technical education institutions in the state, thus leaving the parents vulnerable to the private sector’s loot. At present, the state government is spending only 16.21 per cent of its budget on education, which is for away from the demand that 30 per cent of the state budget must be earmarked for the sector.
Former minister Professor Shyam Chand said the initial budget of Rs 630 crore for the Commonwealth Games was later hiked to Rs 70,000 crore in order to benefit a handful of people through corrupt methods, while the Congress governments have been constantly running away from their responsibility spending 6 per cent of GDP for education. Master Wazeer Singh said thousands of teacher posts lying vacant in the state are not being filled up while there is the pressing need of creating thousands of new posts for implementing the Right to Education Act. Subhash Lamba pointed out that the state government is not sincere about implementing its own directives regarding 25 per cent reservations in educational institutions for the students coming from the economically and socially weaker sections, while parents have been agitating for it for long. Dr Nilima Dahiya said the government is ignoring the teaching of humanities subjects and seeking to mould the curriculum according the needs of the market.
Dr Jagmati Sangwan lambasted the out and out patriarchal attitude of the state government which is constantly ignoring the episodes of sexual oppression and harassment, and has failed to curb the savour crimes like honour killings, thus contributing to a worsening of educational environment in the state. It has taken only token steps in the direction of constituting an anti-sexual oppression committee and ignored the Supreme Court’s clear-cut directives in this regard. DYFI state president Dinesh Siwach said the government is facilitating the exploitation of unemployed educated youth by the private sector; that is why it is avoiding the formulation of a concrete policy for providing them permanent employment. SFI state secretary Vinod Deshwal said there has been a ban on student union elections in Haryana for the last 14 years, in a bid to suppress the possibilities of organised opposition to the neo-liberal policies in education. The privatisation and commercialisation of education led to severe fall in its quality.
The main resolution of the convention was unanimously adopted after several suggestions were incorporated in to it. The convention constituted a Save Education, Spread Education Forum, Haryana in order to resist the anti-education policies in the state. A number of eminent educationists and intellectuals, apart from representatives of the participating organisations will be the members of this forum, which will have Satyapal Siwach as its convenor. The convention also constituted a four-member committee, based on Dr Subhash Chandra, Sohan Das, Mukesh Yadav and Vinod Deshwal, for creation of publicity and awareness material for the proposed campaign.
On behalf of the presidium, Dr Subhash Chandra said all sections of the society are resenting the moves at the privatisation and commercialisation of education, and we have to mobilise them in order to give their resentment a positive direction. Outlining the proposed campaign, he said, the series of district level conventions would be completed by November 10, and then a joint statewide campaign would start in order to ensure maximum possible participation from the state in the December 2 March to Parliament of students, teachers and parents. He expressed the hope that the Save Education, Spread Education Forum would be able to forge a powerful grassroots level movement against the anti-education policies of the central and state governments.