Is Education Put on Sale? – The Attack on TISS

February 26, 2018

This article was received from Numan.

 

Education being a basic human right should be free for all irrespective of gender, race, caste or economic differences.  In India only  10% of the total population has access to higher education [1]. Only 2.1% of Muslims and 1.8% of tribals and Dalits have any higher education [1]. Also, in rural areas, 2% of the population is educated beyond the higher secondary  level, contrasted with 12% from urban areas.

 

With the BJP coming to power, Indian academia has been facing continuous assault through the process of privatisation. This is in addition to anti-poor policies on the ground — scrapping of Non-Net fellowships that sought to make education  a tradable business, limiting seats with limited funding in government universities, encouraging students to take loans thereby making them prisoners of debt — all this despite the recommendations of several commissions, beginning  with the Kher Committee (1948-49), the Kothari Commission (1964-66), the National Educational Policy (1968), the Secondary Education Policy (1986), the National Education Policy (1986), and the CABE committee (2006), all of which recommended an increase in expenditure  on education up to 6% of the GDP.

In fact, according to the UNDP report (2004) on expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP, India ranks 81st in a list of 137 countries [2].

The recent attack on TISS through 75% increase in fee for MPhil and M.A  clearly demonstrates how higher education in India is already grappling with issues like unequal access that result in the lower rate of enrollment and higher dropouts.  The assault on education particularly picked up pace from the 1990s onwards, and is getting worse with the passage of time as education is turned into a very profitable market. In point of fact, the culture of fee-hike or scrapping of fellowships is just another form of attack on the academic sphere  through the weapon of commercialization, an attack against which various TISS campuses have been resisting through strikes and boycotting classes over the last few days.

The protests across all the campuses give a premonition that an attack of this kind may also befall other universities. We have already seen a 200% hike in entrance examination of JNU, enormous fee-hike in a number of DU-colleges , Ambedkar University,  while the IITs charge in lakhs. A similar attack intended for Jamia Millia Islamia in 2016 as well as Punjab University last year was ferociously resisted by students.

Making education a commodity can only lead to deprivation and inequality, since only an individual coming from a significantly rich background can pursue higher studies under the banner of the socially powerful. The present scenario  represents nothing less than a succumbing to the directions given by the World Bank to the government headed by Atal  Bihari Vajpayee in regards to privatisation of education, followed by a report that projected education as a profitable market over which the industrialists  would have complete control. It aimed at making students into competitive workers who can adapt to every situation and acquire new skills and innovate; stressing on making education self-financed and relying on student-loans. TISS, in some way or the other, has been fighting against this sort of predicament on ground.

The  on-going university- strike by the students of various TISS campuses is indicative of the struggle against the present attack, which, if it persists, could make the institution thoroughly inaccessible to all except for a particular section of society, and would push the rest into a den of loans. The present form of assault on education and the ensuing  resistance that followed, puts forth several questions pertaining to the seat-cuts, significant drop in the percentage of OBC admissions, scrapping of fellowships, reduction of scholarships, abnormal fee-hike, thus, clearly defining education under-rigorous-attack.

References:

* [1] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/Only-10-of-students-have-access-to-higher-education-in-country/articleshow/28420175.cms


*[2] UNDP report 2004, an expenditure of education india ranks 81.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/tiss-students-boycott-classes-first-semester-paper-cancelled-mumbai-5074722/

*https://thewire.in/227381/tiss-students-protests-financial-aid/