Right to Education : National call from AIFRTE; Report from Bhopal demonstration

April 26, 2013


Bhopal Resistance – A report

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Shiksha Adhikar Manch, Bhopal (SAMB) in association with Citizens Welfare Forum, Bhopal organised a dharna against Saint Joseph Convent Senior Secondary Girls School, Idgaah Hills, Bhopal and staged cremation of Right to Education (RTE) Act on 20th April, 2013.

Taking benefit of the contradictions of the RTE Act and in collusion with the State’s official machinery including the Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights as well as the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the School has extorted fees and other charges from the children of poor families, many of which have to take debt to pay the fees in order to save an year of their child while many children had their year lost as their parents could not manage the huge amount. And while this happened, the Indian State has behaved like a true Nero, overlooking this blatant violation of rights of children.

The incident not only proves the farcical nature of the RTE Act but also the real intention and stand of the Indian State as far as children’s right to free and equitable education is concerned. Any confusion in this regards would be dangerous for the pro-people forces of the country.

A public meeting was also organized at the dharna site which was addressed by Dr Anil Sadgopal (SAMB), SM Salman (Advocate and Patron of Citizens Welfare Forum), S Musharraf Ali (Journalist, and Patron of Citizens Welfare Forum), Mohd Mahir (President, MP Muslim Vikas Parishad) Dr. Noor Ahmed (Former faculty of Saifia College, Bhopal and Director, Patel Group of Educational Institutions) and others.

Representatives of All India Students Federation (AISF), Bhopal; All India Revolutionary Students’ Organisation (AIRSO); Bhopal Revolutionary Youth Federation of India (RYFI), Bhopal; and All India Students’ Association (AISA), Delhi also participated in the agitation.

A 6-member delegation also met the Principal of St Joseph School and gave a memorandum. Notably, the Principal said to the delegation that “I will consult my management” or “For 57 years we have provided education to the poor”, indicating her inability to distinguish between patronage by the elite and Fundamental Right of the child. It also shows what kind of ‘right’ the RTE Act has given!

On 22nd April, dharna against the MP Commission for Protection of Child Rights would be organized and signature campaign would also be organized.

The agitation was part of the call of All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) to launch on April 20, 21 and 22, a country-wide struggle focusing on the issues of, privatization of BMC schools in Mumbai, closure of government schools in various other states, exposing the dangers of PPP and exposing the real face of Right to Education Act which has facilitated the assault of global capital on government school system.


Unite to Fight for Establishment of Fully Free and State-funded Common School System!!

Defeat the Neo-liberal Attack on Education!

Struggle to Create History Anew!!!

Inquilaab Zindabaad!!!!

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Make Success the Call of the National Executive of All India Forum for Right To Education

Circular dated 4th April, 2013
The National Executive of All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) met at Delhi on 23rd and 24th of March. The report of the meet and all decisions of the meet will be sent shortly. However, the member organisations are requested to carry the following programmes which are decided by the National Executive with all vigor.

# Three – Day Programmes in April # Joining May Day programmes # Delhi Seminar in August #

1. April 20, 21, 22
Three years of Right To Education Act (RTE Act) lead to closure and privatization of government schools and spread of private sector working with profit motive. The public funds and assets are being siphoned to private agencies under this Act in pursuance of World Bank prompted Public Private Partnership. AIFRTE fore saw all this long back when the Act was in a form of Bill. Our Stand is vindicated.

All our Member organisations, State and District level bodies are called upon to organize programmes according to their organizational strength and local opportunities to expose the Right To Education Act (RTE Act, 2009) on 20th , 21st and 22nd April. The programmes can be for all the three days or for one or two days according to the local plan. We should demand, in every state to desist from closure and privatization of government schools. We should demand strengthening of government schools, regulation of private schools and abolition of all policies seeking siphoning of public funds and assets to private partners. All government schools should be developed upto to the norms and standards of Central Schools, at least to begin with. The right to education shall be provided to all children upto age 18 years (preschool to 12th class) on the basis of constitutional principles of democracy, secularism, egalitarianism and socialism. The right to education invariably includes the right to nutrition, health and security support and residential arrangements in cases of need.

Our demand for Repeal and Replace the RTE Act with genuine Act which gives a constitutional guarantee for providing right to education through Fully State Funded Common School System based on Neighborhood Schools at least until the child completes Higher Secondary Education (Preschool to 12th class).

Memoranda: The memoranda should be addressed to the Chief Minister of the state and copy marked to School Education Minister of the State. The copies should also be marked to HRD Minister and Prime Minister. However, the copies shall also be marked to District Collector, District Education Officer and Project Officer (SSA) of the District when a district body organizes the programme. In such case, the memorandum can also include district level problems. We are opposed to the Act because it has got provisions for encouragement of commercialization of education and siphoning of public funds and assets to private operators. These provisions make the basis and purpose of the Act and the Act is proving an instrument not only in continuing the multilayered schools with provision of low standard schools to the millions of children but also to aggravate the inequalities and further marginalization of the marginalized. However, our opposition to the Act does not come in our way to demand the implementation of the schedule of the Act regarding infrastructure and teaching staff where all state governments have failed.

Maharashtra Campaign: The Mumbai Municipal Corporation is trying to privatize all 1174 schools which are under its management. Never before, either before independence or after, a statutory body like Municipal Corporation has decided to hand over all schools under its management to private agencies. The credit for the move of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation goes to RTE Act only. Our member organisations in Maharashtra initiated a campaign against the move. Many more organisations joined the campaign. National Executive decided to mobilise nationwide support to the fighting people of Maharashtra. All member organisations are hereby requested to mobilise public support to the struggle of the people of Maharashtra against privatization of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Schools. Every member organization should send a signed memorandum to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra demanding him not to approve the move of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to privatize the schools.

2. On May 1 i.e. MAY DAY
Member organisations, State and District level bodies may join the Working class movements, participate with them in May Day Rallies, express solidarity with their struggles and raise the slogan for ‘Fully State funded CSS and mobilise working Class support for this long cherished goal. We understand that we cannot resist the Neo-liberal onslaught on education without active support of working class. As you all know, India has given ‘Offers’ in higher education sector to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) under World Trade Organisation (WTO). Six Higher Education Bills are introduced in the Parliament over the last three years to completely transform the higher education system of India to suit the needs of WTO. If the ‘Offers’ are not withdrawn in time, they become ‘irreversible commitments’ on part of the nation putting freedom of the people and sovereignty of the country at stake. We should draw the attention of the working class and its leaders of this grave danger. We should enlist the support of the working class against the ‘Offers’ and the six Bills.

3. In August
Our Delhi Unit is actively considering organizing a National Seminar in Delhi to be addressed by the Working Class Leaders along with academics and AIF RTE leadership. The focus shall be our opposition to the higher education Bills introduced in the Parliament in pursuance of neo-liberal policies and the ‘Offers’ given to WTO in higher education sector.

Note: The National Executive (23rd and 24th March, 2013) has decided that the ‘Programme of Action’ as approved in the Hoshangabad Meet of the National Executive (August, 2012) continues to guide our work. Please see below for the programme.

Please make all programmes Successful.

With regards

Prof. Meher Engineer,
Chairperson,
AIFRTE

D. Ramesh Patnaik,
Organizing Secretary,
AIFRTE
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28th August, 2012

The Programme of Action-
The Call of the National Executive Meet held from 10th to 12th August, Hoshangabad

The National Executive Meet held in Tarantaran Dharmashala, Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh decided the following Programme of Action. This Meet is dedicated to the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme that revealed the strength of the government school system to respond to creative curricular and pedagogic ideas for three decades from 1972 to 2002.

1. All our Strength and energy must be used to mobilize Public Opinion against the Pending six Higher Education Bills in the Parliament. All our member organizations shall try to organize Universitywise and collegewise meetings- to demand the withdrawal of all the Higher Education Bills Pending in the Parliament – involving teachers and students. Collect signatures on Memoranda against the Bills and send them to the Parliamentary Standing Committee attached to HRD ministry before which some of the Bills are still lying. According to the Standing Committee, the students and teachers are only ‘stake holders’. Even according to their logic, they can not ignore the opposition of the students and teachers. Copies of our Memoranda with signatures must also be sent to the President and Prime Minister since the Bills are likely to be sent by the Parliamentary Standing Committee to the Parliament shortly. Some of the Bills have already been sent to the Parliament and even crossed the hurdle of one of the Houses i.e. Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha. (Status of Bills attached)

If the People have not opposed the Bills, it is not because they love the Bills, it is just because they do not know what is happening in the Parliament and what will be the effect, if the Bills are allowed to be enacted. Hence, it is our duty to explain the implications of the Bills to the people. Our movement should be to enlighten the people and build a people’s Movement that is indigenously designed using the opportunities and understanding the aspirations and needs of the people. With this understanding our programme of Action is drawn.

2. Having recognized Chennai Declaration as a campaign material, AIF-RTE and its member organisations must carry it forward by holding village, taluk/tehsil district level workshops and build people’s movement leading to state level seminar / conference / convention with mass rally and public meeting. Ultimately the movement should lead us to March to Delhi “ Delhi Chalo”, may be by early next year. The Chennai Declaration shall be translated into at least the languages of the Eighth Schedule in a time-bound manner. (Chennai Declaration attached)
It should be noted that struggle against the Six Higher Education Bills waiting to be passed by Parliament is the immediate task. Simultaneously, Campaign for carrying forward the Chennai Declaration and other struggles may be undertaken based on the strength of the member organisation. Since all the programmes are equally important priority may be fixed at local level.

3. AIF-RTE and its member organizations must write letters to the teacher and student organizations both at National and state level and open dialogue with them and initiate efforts to bring all left and democratic organization under Common banner to oppose the Higher Education Bills pending in the Parliament.

4. Organize Educational Jathas to learn from and dialogue with the people, explain our stand mobilize public opinion against the moves of the Government to demolish and destroy the Sovereign, Democratic, Socialist and Secular fabric of our educational system.

5. The vast majority of the people who generally oppose oppression, inequality and injustice and aspire to work for social change may or may not be associated with any organization. Such individuals with good intention must be approached, and invited to become Associates of AIF-RTE by signing a declaration and contributing a small amount as subscription. The subscription amount shall be Rs. 10/- i.e., Rs.5/- for AIF-RTE and Rs.5/- for member organization enrolling the individual. The Register of Associates will be maintained by the AIF-RTE Office Secretary and by the member organizations at State and District level. Introducing AIF-RTE in such a way that these individuals understand the goals of AIF-RTE and the sincerity of people behind it, will definitely help to win good will and widen our base. A four page introductory leaflet shall be published for the purpose. (Form of Declaration of AIFRTE Associates Attached)

6. Campaign, Struggle and Resistance: Well meaning Campaigns for abolition of commercialization of Education and building Common School System is linked with Struggle for development of Government Schools and regulation of private schools together with the resistance movement against siphoning of public funds and resources to private agencies in the name of Public Private Partnership (PPP). A strong resistance movement shall be built against the handing over the land or property belonging to the Local Body, Government, and Government Aided schools to private parties (individuals, NGOs, religious bodies or any other organization) under one or another pretext.
The government school system has been steadily deteriorated as a result of a deliberate government policy for the past two decades to open up space for private school market. Hence, people will now develop faith in the Government Schools only if they are Strengthened and developed. Private Schools flourish just because they are not properly supervised and controlled, once Government initiate steps to regulate them, they will not be able to withstand such regulation and if the flow of public money to private school is stalled, the Private will have no other option but to withdraw from the field. At this juncture Government Schools should be in such condition that parents of private school gain confidence to shift their children to Government Schools.

7. Struggles may be organized at institute level using the existing laws, proceedings of the officials, Orders of the Government, etc to strengthen anganwadis or ICDS centres, government schools, colleges and Universities and regulate private sector. This will bring students, parents and teachers of government and private institutions closure to us.

8. Bringing out flag-leaflets with four pages on different topics such as “What is Common School System?”, “harmful effects of Commercialisation of Education” etc.

9. Parents must be involved in discussions on the Curriculum and pedagogy that is being followed in private schools which are actually miss-educating the children going to private schools. The unhealthy relationships (Management –Teacher; Head Teacher-Teacher; Teacher-Student) that are obtaining in private schools are against healthy development of children and do great injustice to the market-gullible parents and innocent children. The private schools are highly discriminative towards children who need special attention and the same may be exposed. Local studies on the harmful effects of privatized and commercialized education need to be periodically published from different parts of the country and widely disseminated in various languages. This exercise will help in exposing the evil effects of commercialisation of education and break the spell of market-determined mindset of the people.

10. Involve intellectuals in analysis of the curriculum, syllabus and textbooks that are being designed in various states and release periodic reports. Care should be taken to look into how the issues of disability, gender and transgender equity, caste and class oppressions are dealt with. With concrete alternative proposals on hand, explore ways to intervene at the very formulation stage of curriculum by approaching the authorities concerned and explaining to them our suggestions for improvement of the same. Our comments on the curriculum, syllabus and textbooks may be put in public domain for the scrutiny of all concerned and building public debates. This will help to bring the intellectuals from various states closer to us.

11. In every state of India there are individuals and groups struggling for establishing Mother Tongue as the medium of education. This democratic demand must be recognized. AIF-RTE and its member organizations must associate with such individuals and organizations and work out joint movements to highlight the issue of medium of education. The experience may differ from state to state or sometimes from region to region within a state. We do not impose our idea on people, we just strengthen the people who are already struggling to save and develop their language. We should, however, explain to the struggling people that the child’s mother tongue, in its multi-lingual context, is universally regarded as the most potent medium for acquiring modern knowledge and learning any other language, including English. We should also associate with Movements for inclusion of a particular language in the Eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution. Working with such organization will help to broaden the Struggle for Common School System.

12. Movements struggling for the Rights of the oppressed sections, especially the disabled, Dalits, Tribals, religious or linguistic Minorities, Women, Transgenders as well as the displaced and those deprived of their livelihoods, migrants, nomads and denotified tribes, along with the intellectuals associated with such movements, must be approached and a bond of solidarity must be built with such movements and individuals by explaining to them that denial of equitable access to education is the worst form of oppression. This will help to broaden the base of AIF-RTE and take us nearer to people with whom we should really be identified with.

13. Workshops based on well drawn syllabi and creative pedagogic approaches to update and enlighten the activists of AIF-RTE and its member organizations may be organized at state and/ or district levels. The activists from neighbouring states/ districts may also be encouraged to participate. This may help in deeper understanding of the substance of our demands and develop their skills to articulate and conceptualize the issues in a better way.

14. On the basis of the understanding that the struggle for right to education is invariably linked with struggle against imperialism, the member organizations shall strive to associate themselves with struggles against imperialism and also struggles for Jal, Jungle, Jameen and Jeevika that are being waged relentlessly throughout the country.

15. Members and Member organizations shall strive to work selectively on some government schools, involve teachers and parents to develop the schools in all aspects and to project them as confidence-building, inspiring and catalyzing examples. Such an attempt includes struggle against the government for strengthening of the schools in terms of improved provisions of teachers and infrastructure, regular teaching and learning and also enabling the teachers to realize their historical role in educational and social transformation. Such efforts also include the realization of the parents of the adverse effects of unhealthy teaching methods that are pursued in private schools and the realizable potential of creative and holistic education in the government schools.

16. In addition to these decisions of the National Executive, it was also suggested for consideration that the exchange of activists from one region to another so as to help our activists to gain first hand knowledge of the aspirations and the needs of the people living in different regions of India and also to catalyse inter-region exchange of ideas and experience. The practicability of this suggestion will depend on the preparedness, resources of the activists and their local support groups and also the priority the activists will be willing to accord to this exercise. It should be understood that strong movements can be built only when one gains a first hand knowledge of issues that one is dealing with and learns constructively from the experience of others.

17. All members and member-organisations (and also associated organisations) are called upon to proactively engage in production and dissemination of their own and AIFRTE’s literature among the masses as widely as possible (this includes enrolling subscribers for AIFRTE newsletters) and also, equally significantly, motivate them to study, debate and internalize the material for carrying forward their struggles.

D. Ramesh Patnaik, 09440980396
Organising Secretary,
All India Forum forRight to Education
शिक्षा नहीं कोई कारोबार, है यह जनता का अधिकार