(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 28, 2010
SAVE AND STRENGTHEN PUBLIC EDUCATION
Forward to December 2
'March to Parliament'
THE Congress-led UPA government came into power in 2004 with outside support of the Left parties. It strived to continue the drive of centralisation, privatisation and commercialisation of higher education launched by the previous NDA government. A large number of private institutions were given deemed university status. It had to withdraw Foreign Educational Institutions Bill in May 2007 due to the strong opposition of CPI(M). Under the pressure of the Left parties, it had to abandon the Model Act for all universities. It also could not bring an enabling framework common to the entire system of education.
UPA government gave initial
offers in August 2005 to WTO under GATS which was protested by all
stakeholders. However, the commerce ministry circulated in 2006 a
paper on trade in education services. Titled “Higher Education in
commerce ministry recommended
“services negotiations (in WTO) could be used as an opportunity to
foreign universities to set up campuses in
The WTO had identified certain barriers to trade. These barriers/obstacles include the restrictions on free movement and nationality requirements of students and teachers, immigration regulations, types of courses, movement of teachers, modalities of payments or repatriation of money, conditions concerning use of resources, direct investment and equity ceilings, existence of public monopolies, subsidies to local institutions, economic need tests, exchange controls, non-recognition of equivalent qualifications, etc. The goal of ‘free trade’ regime under the WTO was to get these barriers removed in order to further liberalise the world economy. Therefore, the commerce ministry’s recommendations about ‘adequate flexibility’, ‘balance’ between domestic regulations and ‘removal of barriers’ could prove disastrous for the Indian higher education system.
The trade in education has adopted an alternative route outside the ambit of WTO-GATS. The developed countries and education providers now directly negotiate with sovereign States wanting to import higher education. Quite often they put pressure on developing and transition countries to open up their education sector to the foreign educational players. Such pressures were mounting on UPA government. It could not do much due to strong resistance of the Left parties on whose outside support it depended.
The UPA-II government came into power in May 2009. It knew that a Model Act like enabling framework, as directed by the World Bank and WTO, was not possible due to the resistance of all stakeholders. Therefore, its 100-day agenda announced by the minister of human resource development included introduction of several bills in parliament and so called academic reforms. Accordingly, four bills regarding entry and operation of foreign educational providers, mandatory assessment and accreditation, prevention and prohibition of malpractices, and establishment of a tribunal to fast-track adjudication were introduced in the budget session of parliament on 3 May 2010.
In addition a draft bill was issued for the constitution of an overarching authority National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) based on the recommendations of Yashpal Committee and National Knowledge Commission. In the wake of strong criticism, this draft was revised and circulated as Higher Education and Research Bill. Another draft bill for starting ‘universities for innovation’ has been circulated.
Apart from these bills, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2009 was passed and it became an Act despite several shortcomings. Various problems remained in its implementation. An amendment bill was introduced this year for taking care of the problems of differently-abled children which is still pending.
UPA-II government is changing
the entire framework of higher education system in the country without
consultation and debate. The minister is pushing this so called “reform
with tremendous haste without any regard to the opposition of academia
states. It is being questioned whether this agenda will ‘reform’ higher
education system in
compulsion of the minister and
the central government for pushing these “reforms” can be understood by
the situation obtaining abroad in higher education sector after the
economic meltdown particularly in
the new framework which will
facilitate trade in higher education, there will be no social control
education institutions and no regulation of admission, fees, content of
courses, examination, service conditions of teachers and other
ignoring larger issues of social justice and academic accountability.
adjudication of disputes, teachers or other employees will be stopped
tribunal level and they will be denied their constitutional right to
recourse to high courts. There will be no remedial mechanism for the
of problems of students. Instead of giving higher education
freedom to regulate themselves on the basis of some guidelines, they
mandatorily accredited. However, the central government can exempt the
institutions from this mandatory provision which will help the foreign
educational institutions interested in coming to
foreign educational institutions
will launch courses which the market needs, create false impression
courses through advertisements, charge exorbitantly high fees for
have immediate employment potential. The Universities for Innovation
provide an alternative route to foreign universities for establishing
the neo-liberal agenda of the
UPA-II government, the cherished function of higher education, for the
creation and dissemination of knowledge and for instilling sensitivity
social awareness in its students in
We have to
force the government of
In this background a national convention of fifteen organisations of students, teachers, non-teaching employees and officers of schools, colleges & universities, youth, parents, people’s science movement and concerned citizens was held on August 13 at New Delhi. It is unprecedented that so many organisations came together and resolved to fight against the anti-people policies of UPA-II government in the field of education which are aimed at pushing centralisation, privatisation and commercialisation of the education sector in the country. Such policies will undermine the goal of expansion, excellence and equity in education which can only be achieved through increased public spending based on a democratic education policy.
‘National Forum in Defence of
Education’ was formed in this
convention. It called to hold a
massive rally on December 2, 2010 in
Let us all
respond to the clarion call given by the national forum in defence of
in large numbers and make the December 2 rally in
The goals of expansion, equity and excellence in education at all levels are mutually complementary and should be pursued harmoniously through greater public investment and public control over education. The needs of differently- abled children should be fully taken care of so that they complete their studies. Special schemes for promotion of education of the children belonging to disadvantaged, deprived and minorities should be launched. There is a strong need to make the entire system of education democratic, participative and transparent. Following charter of demands, in addition to demands at the local levels, has been popularised all over the country.
· Allocate 6 per cent of GDP for Education as committed in the CMP of the UPA-I government.
· 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. Allow parents-teachers associations in non-aided institutions. Delete the provision, Section 35 of the Act, requiring prior permission for any prosecution. The 86th Constitution Amendment (2002) should be amended to make the right to education inclusive of common school and neighborhood school.
· Recruit quality teachers on a permanent basis. Remove the freeze on appointments and cuts in teaching and non-teaching positions. The para-teachers/ contract teachers should be absorbed on permanent basis.
· Oppose handing over of public educational institutions’ infrastructure and management to the private sector in the name of Public Private Partnerships.
· Reject fee hike. Fully subsidize students from economically backward and disadvantaged backgrounds.
· Enact a central legislation to bring all private self-financing institutions under strict social control.
· Implement constitutionally mandated SC/ST/OBC reservations in all educational institutions.
· 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.
· Oppose FDI in Education.
· Scrap the FEI Bill.
· Scrap private universities and deemed university status to private institutions.
· Stop bringing education under GATS (WTO).
· Use Information Technology for distance education to provide universal lifelong quality education. Do not commercialise distance education.
· Undertake Assessment for improvement not Accreditation or Funding. Evolve a democratic and transparent mechanism for Assessment.
· 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.