Statements against police attack on Students of School of Open Learning

February 2, 2015

AIFRTE Condemns Police Attack on Students of SOL, Delhi University

All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) strongly condemns the vicious attack by the police on students of School of Open Learning (SOL), Delhi University peacefully demonstrating outside Shastri Bhawan for their legitimate demands. The demonstration was occasioned by stubborn attitude of Union Minister of Human Resource Development who has not responded to an earlier memorandum by the students. The matter was urgent as classes had not been held, courses had either not started or been left mid-way. With exams round the corner the students were left with no option but to demonstrate peacefully to get a speedy response.

Prof. Madhu Prasad, Member Presidium and Spokesperson of AFRTE, gave the following account of the situation:

“I was personally present right throughout the demonstration (which started at 12 noon on 30th January 2015) and was witness to the fact that it was completely peaceful. The students were gathered at the gate and were not disturbing traffic in the area either. Suddenly a police bus turned into the entrance and trapped the students between the closed gate and the bus. Then the police attacked the students and I saw several male police dragging the girls. I immediately intervened verbally and physically to prevent them from touching the girls until policewomen finally turned up. Even then I tried to prevent them from pulling the girls into the bus as they had not done any wrong and were merely demanding their rights as students to meet and submit their memorandum to the HRD Minister. But there was no attempt on the part of the police to be at all reasonable. They abused and roughed up the students and further confiscated the speaker being used by the students. When Alok (a student activist) and I objected to this, they spoke extremely rudely to us too, saying that if we were teachers then why we were instigating the students. Then they dragged Alok into the bus also.”

This attack comes in series of such incidents of force being used against students raising democratic demands. This is not only violation of students’ rights but also shows completely insensitive attitude of governments towards academic requirements of students. AIFRTE demands that action should be taken against irresponsible authorities who ordered such assault on students and at the same time all demands of SOL students should be accepted without any delay.

Immediate Demands of School of Open Learning Students

i. Restart the classes of first year students immediately so that the whole syllabus gets completed before the examination.
ii. Start the classes of second year and third year students immediately.
iii. Increase the number of study centers so that all the students can be accommodated. To accommodate all the students provide class in evening shift in regular colleges.
iv. Send messages of Personal Contact Programme(PCP) to each and every student. Currently there is a huge scam in sending messages to the students. There should be an independent enquiry into the scam of PCP classes.

AIFRTE Presidium
Dr. Meher Engineer, West Bengal, Chairperson, AIFRTE; Ex-President,Indian Academy of Social Science; Kolkata
Prof. Wasi Ahmed, Bihar, Former Joint Secretary, AIFUCTO; Patna
Sri Prabhakar Arade, Maharashtra, President, AIFETO; Kolhapur
Prof. G. Haragopal, Andhra Pradesh, National Fellow, ICSSR; TISS, Hyderabad
Prof. Madhu Prasad, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of Philosophy, Zakir Husain College, DU
Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Madhya Pradesh, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, DU;
Prof. K. M. Shrimali, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of History, DU
Dr. Anand Teltumbde, West Bengal, Professor of Management, IIT, Kharagpur

######

KRANTIKARI YUVA SANGATHAN (KYS)
DELHI UNIVERSITY S.O.L. STUDENTS UNION (KYS)

POLICE BADLY BEAT UP PROTESTING D.U. STUDENTS AND ACTIVISTS AT MHRD!

MORE THAN 100 STUDENTS-ACTIVISTS DETAINED AT PARLIAMENT STREET POLICE STATION!

A DELEGATION OF THREE MEMBERS SUBMITS MEMORANDUM TO THE SECRETARY, HIGHER EDUCATION!

Today a massive protest of Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (SOL) students and youth activists was held in front of MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) under the banner of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS). Within a few minutes of the peaceful protest, the Police disrupted the protest and assaulted the students and activists. Women students and women activists present were manhandled by male police constables who tried to forcefully take them to the nearest police station. Even though the protesting students objected to such high-handed police action and resisted intimidation, they were soon piled into a bus and taken to the Parliament Street police station.

The student-activists just wanted to submit a memorandum to the Hon’ble Minister Smt. Smriti Irani regarding their grievances. More than 100 student-activists were detained till 3:45pm. A delegation of three members meanwhile met the Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Shri Satya N Mohanty, and apprised him of the problems faced by students of SOL and Shri Mohanty has agreed to urgently look into the matter, especially the demand for more centres and classes.

It is to be noted that students-activists were protesting against denial of adequate number of classes to the first year students of School of Open Learning (SOL). While more than half of the syllabus remains uncovered the classes of first year students of SOL were suddenly wrapped up even before the promised 20 days of classes. Even today, around three-fourths of the first year syllabus remains incomplete across many SOL centres and the classes of many of first year papers started on the last day of the class!

Importantly, the admission of first year students of SOL started late this year due to which classes commenced in October instead of August. To mend the mismanaged academic calendar and huge infrastructure crunch, the SOL administration has resorted to various means like not sending messages of Sunday classes to the students, and assigning classes even on the days of festivals. All in all, this year the first year students of SOL have received merely 12 days of classes! Even during the 12 days of classes the messages of Personal Contact Programme (PCP) was not sent to considerable section of students. Students at various instances have also complained to the SOL authorities of receiving just 2-3 messages. The fact is there is a huge infrastructure crunch due to which SOL does not send messages to more than 20% student on any of the days of classes. On top of that even a byline is sent in the message saying: PCP classes are not compulsory just to discourage students from turning in huge numbers.

Similarly, the classes of second year and third year SOL students have not even started while they will be made to appear in the examination in May-June. This denial of adequate number of classes is just because there are few study centers. Until and unless the number of study centers are not increased SOL students will have to suffer. Due to incomplete course every year students perform worse in examination. When more than 50% students failing in examination and almost 95% students performing worse in the examination, is not the institution responsible?

It must be noted that SOL students do not willingly chose to study in SOL. They are forced to enroll in the badly managed, discriminatory School of Open Learning due to the sheer dearth of seats. After all, just 54000 are offered by DU’s regular colleges while the number of applicants are around 3,00,000. Therefore, most who apply are denied entry into the regular and formal mode of education offered by DU. The majority of youth enrolled in SOL are the same students who apply for DU’s regular colleges and are denied admission as they are unable to compete with the high marks scored by students coming from big private schools and far better socio-economic conditions.

Ironically, with crores of rupees in its treasury but with little investment in facilitating equal and quality education, SOL has become nothing but a money-making machine for Delhi University. Clearly then, the lack of adequate number of regular colleges in DU (which restricts entry into formal education due to higher and higher cut-offs), as well as a poorly run SOL/distance education program go hand in hand in denying the neediest and most marginalized section of youth the right to quality higher education. Indeed, the social profile of SOL students will clearly show that most are first-generation learners, are coming from government-schooling, and belong to economically vulnerable families as well as lower caste groups. Considering these facts, KYS activists resolved to continue mobilizing SOL students in the struggle against the dual education system prevailing across the country.

The demands put forth in the memorandum submitted at MHRD, include:

Immediate demands:

  1. Restart the classes of first year students immediately so that the whole syllabus gets completed before the examination.
  2. Start the classes of second year and third year students immediately.

iii. Increase the number of study centers so that all the students can be accommodated. To accommodate all the students provide class in evening shift in regular colleges.

  1. Send messages of Personal Contact Programme(PCP) to each and every student. Currently there is a huge scam in sending messages to the students. There should be an independent enquiry into the scam of PCP classes.

Long standing demands:

  1. Enforcement of complete parity between DU’s regular colleges and DU-SOL by offering greater number of classes, more Honours courses.

All the courses, such as B.A. (Hons.) Sociology, B.A. (Hons.) History, B.A. (Hons.) Hindi, B.A. (Hons.) Economics, etc. that are offered in DU’s regular mode, must be extended to SOL as well. Bring parity in course structure: at present SOL runs annual mode degrees and regular colleges have semester system.

Provide regular classes to the students of SOL in the evening shift in the regular colleges of DU so that the students who wanted to study in the regular mode are not denied their basic right to education.

  1. Introduction of a new system of admissions in government funded universities like DU so as to ensure government school students a proper share of seats in higher educational institutions.
  2. Creation of new colleges in DU so as to enhance gross enrollment ratio. Currently the gross enrollment ratio is at flailing 18%.
  3. Infrastructure development, including building construction should be pursued in SOL centres with funds allocated by UGC and not by fees collected from the SOL students.
  4. Direct DU to introduce examination reforms so that a valuable year of SOL students does not get wasted after their third year.
  5. Direct DU to conclude admission process of post-graduation courses offered by it only after the release of SOL BA/B.Com results.
  6. Direct DU to extend library facilities, access to ECA, sports, etc. to all SOL students at par with the regular students.
  7. Ensure bus pass facility to all SOL students for all routes.
  8. The DU administration must be made to address the problems of all SOL students of the incumbent batch who stand to lose a year due to the course data entry mistakes of the University staff. The staff responsible for these mistakes must be reprimanded.
  9. Restart Special chance so that students do not lose out their valuable 6 years.

Thanking You,

Shahnawaz Jaman                                                                                                       Rohit Singh
For further information contact: 09958116114