Bangalore – State level convention for ‘Abolition of commercialisation and communalization of education and establishment of Common School System’, Feb 9

Organizers : All India Forum for Right to Education, Samaana Shikshanakkaagi Janaandolana (peoples movement for equal education), Karnataka School Teachers Association and Karnataka SDMC Co-ordination Committee

09.02.14, Sunday
Procession: From banappa park to mysore bank circle, 2.00pm.
Public meeting: Senate hall, central college campus, mysore bank circle, Bangalore. 3.30-6.30pm.

Education plays an important role in all-round progress of people and hence of a country as whole. Education is vital not only to build an equitable and just society but also to develop the full potential of every citizen to share the fruits of progress and also to pursue ones desired career or profession. Hence it is crucial that every citizen of the country is ensured not only equal access to education but also equality in education and equal opportunity with social justice. Only then all citizens will be in a position to participate in country’s progress and contribute to build a truly democratic society as envisioned by our Constitution. In absence of this, there will be lopsided development benefitting only the already privileged classes, who will oppress the under-privileged as it is happening now. Kothari Commission (1964-66) which was appointed for recommending ways and means to rectify the shortcomings of the educational system had stated in its report, “Indian History has proved that, if education becomes exclusive property of certain sections of society, they will misuse it for oppressing the majority, who are the weaker sections. At least now that we have accepted democracy every citizen is entitled for equal opportunity for education.” This concern of Kothari Commission was ignored by successive governments. Rooted in inequality and replete with subjugation, the present education system has led to discrimination becoming the decisive factor in causing large-scale exclusion of children of dalits, tribals, OBCs and Muslims, particularly girls in these marginalized sections from social development. Thus, instead of promoting equality and justice in society, education system itself has become a means to sustain and reinforce inequality, injustice and oppression in our society.

The huge gap between private and public education, Kannada medium and English medium, between different syllabuses has grown so wide that the seeds of inequality and discrimination have mushroomed into a tree of uncontrollable growth. Friends, if this discrimination or inequality in the educational system is not stopped now, we will have to pay a heavy price in future as education will be fully privatized and the working class and the children of poor families will be completely cheated out of education. Education has already become a commercial business venture to earn more and more profits at the expense of large majority of our people. It is urgently required for all progressive thinking people and groups to come together to bring in fundamental changes in this unequal and unjust education system. It is a well-known fact that in all the so called developed countries and even in poorer countries like Venezuela and Cuba, education is imparted without discrimination under Common School System and the cost is completely borne by the respective governments. Our governments so often proclaim that we are fast approximating the developed countries in terms of economic growth, isn’t it the time for India to approximate these countries in terms of providing fully free and state-funded education system as well! There are enough resources produced by diligence and hard labour of our people to provide for such a system, the only thing lacking is political will on part of the governments which are ready to spend crores of rupees for benefit of corporate houses and corrupt elites but not on equitable education of the people. It’s high time that we should have fully free and state-funded Common Education System to solve many of the current problems that we face today. From many decades activists, educational scholars and elders are striving to achieve this end. The ‘People’s Movement for Equal Education’ is struggling for this objective and desires to bring this issue on the forefront as a strong movement of the people.

Another challenge that we face is the outrageous and widespread lie that private schools are good! Even our governments through the Right to Education Act have strengthened this serious misconception and there are talks that government schools should be made like private schools. The question is, is everything in private schools worth emulating? A distorted pedagogy based on fierce competition, individualism and IQ-based assessment has put enormous pressure on the students studying in these private schools and it has also promoted selfishness, arrogance and elitism leading to alienation of children from their own society and country. Private schools do not educate, but they ‘produce’ high performing students in exams by coaching (not teaching), filtration through pre-Board exams and suppression of dissent and debate. By being class-conscious, brahminical and casteist, the private education system is basically anti-democratic and anti-social. It prepares children to join the docile workforce of the global market, thereby failing to serve the larger cause of society and humanity. Do we want government schools based on Common School System founded on Neighbourhood Schools or we are fighting for government schools to become like the private schools? Making government schools as replica of private schools will not solve the problem. It should be known that the government school system has been deliberately subverted to make way for profiteering by private school sector. Thus, the root cause of the problem is commercialisation of education on the dictates of the private capital in the era of neo-liberalism! For this, governments have come up with an eye washing tactic with a rosy name of ‘public-private partnership’.
The IMF-World Bank diktat of Structural Adjustment in the early 1990s required reduction of expenditure on education which was effected by a range of measures imposed through the World Bank-sponsored District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) and other such policies. These included (a) replacement of regular teachers by under-qualified, untrained and under-paid instructors appointed on short-term contract (‘Para-Teacher’); (b) one teacher teaching two or more classes simultaneously in a single classroom (‘multi-grade teaching’); (c) promotion of multi-layered school system rooted in discrimination; (d) reducing curriculum to literacy and numeracy; and (e) declining budget allocations as percentage of GDP. All these resulted in the deterioration of the quality of education in the government schools and colleges which was followed by the closure of the same in the pretext of ‘less students’.

In Karnataka in the past three years, the hidden agenda of communalization of education has also taken shape in through new textbooks for classes from V to X. These textbooks are full of communal myths and misinterpretation of history amply proving the communal mindsets of the textbook committee members and its new chief whose post was specially created through a government order. Today, commercialization and communalization go hand in hand to create an undemocratic, unequal education system. Hence, to save education we have to fight the dual threats of commercialization and communalization of education.

To resist this dual threat we have to put in all out efforts to reach more people and create a broad people’s movement for equitable quality education for all children, irrespective of their caste, class, religion, language or area in which they reside. Our definite opinion is that it is our immediate and prime responsibility to stop the danger of privatization of education. ‘Samaana Shikshanakkagi Janandolana’ (People’s Movement for Equal Education) is steadily moving forward with a broad-based programme to build a strong movement for Common Education System by forming a coalition of like-minded organizations and individuals. Our duty is to give it full support and strengthen it. In order to stop the dangerous trends and developments being brought about by the government in the field of education, for democratizing education and to achieve education of equitable quality to all children, concerned people from different and various fields and corners should join hands to fight united. We look forward to your complete participation in this regard.

Impelled by the idea of contributing to a nation-wide movement against commercialization and communalization of education and building a fully state-funded common education system to provide free education of equitable quality from ‘KG to PG’, we became a part of the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) which is fighting and mobilizing public opinion all over the country for the same goals. AIFRTE is an umbrella body comprising students’ and teachers’ organizations, right to education groups, academicians, writers, activists and social thinkers drawn from 20 states/UTs. AIFRTE has been increasingly acknowledged as being unique in acting simultaneously as a critical think tank in education as well as the country-wide vanguard of struggle against the neo-liberal attack on education and for establishing a democratic education system founded on secularism, equality, social justice and scientific thought.

With the aim of strengthening the movement in Karnataka, three state-level organizations – Samaana Shikshanakkaagi Janandolana, Karnataka State Primary School Teachers Union and Karnataka State SDMC Co-ordination Forum – have joined hands to organize a State-Level Convention in Bangalore on Sunday, 9th February 2014, at Banappa Park in Hudson Circle, Kempegowda Road, Bangalore from 2:30 pm onwards.

“Beware! Inequality and discrimination in education and its commercialization will not uphold the assurance of our Constitution for democracy, secularism and justice but will only cause its attrition!! Communalisation of education will fragment the very social fabric of India and destroy her greatest strength viz., its diversity of religions, cultures, languages, knowledge systems, historic perceptions and people’s aspirations!!!”

Our Demands:
1. No Government school should ever be closed under the pretext of low enrolment. Rather, the quality of education in all govt. schools should be improved to the level of at least Central Schools, to begin with, so that the children enrolled in private schools return to the government schools. Rationalise the teaching load on the teachers and stop assigning them non-teaching tasks.
2. All those schools which falsely claim to follow the CBSE syllabus and violate rules and laws and all unauthorized private institutions, including colleges, should be taken over by the government and administered on par with other government institutions in all aspects for the larger public good.
3. All the govt. schools should have one teacher for each class/section upto the 4th standard. Subject-specific teachers should be appointed for all subjects in upper primary and high schools. For fulfilling this condition, the required number of qualified and trained teachers should be appointed in a time-bound manner. The policy of appointing para teachers, contract teachers or guest teachers should be withdrawn forthwith.
4. There should be a common language policy for both the government and private educational institutions from ’KG to PG’. The present discriminatory system of Kannada medium for govt. schools and English medium for private schools must be replaced by making mother tongue the medium of education in all subjects up to high school as a universal rule. Arrangements must also be made to teach English to all children efficiently.
5. All support staff including anganwadi and mid-day meal workers and other non-teaching staff should be guaranteed a dignified salary and social security as per law.
6. Enact an appropriate Act at state-level to ensure Right to entirely free and equitable education up to the age of 18 years (i.e. Class XII) for all children through a fully state-funded Common School System founded on Neighborhood Schools.
7. Ensure all necessary support free of cost such as text books, note books, learning aids and school dress; health services; food served thrice a day (including tiffin in the morning); and residential facilities for the disadvantaged, deprived and discriminated children and youth, irrespective of their religion, class, caste, gender, culture, language, region or disability, in order to enable them to complete their school education up to class XII and pursue higher education on the basis of equal opportunity and social justice.
8. Cleanse all textbooks and other supplementary books as well as the teaching-learning process of communal and patriarchal ideas; casteist and disability-related prejudices; irrationality, superstitions and unscientific thought; and introduce an education system that fosters democratic, secular, egalitarian and scientific outlook and values.
Rally: From Bannappa Park to Mysore Bank Circle, at 2.30pm
Convention: Senate hall, central college campus, Mysore Bank circle, Bangalore.
Inugurated by: Sri Devanooru Mahaadeva, Well known writer and progressive thinker, Mysore.
Presided Over by: Sri K.S. Puttaniah, MLA, Pandavapura, Karnataka.
Introduction: Mallige, Samaana shikshanakkaagi janaandolana, Karnataka.
Chief Guests: Dr. Anil Sadgopal, Member, Presidium, AIFRTE and Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University.
Response: Ms.Gowri, State secretary, Karnataka Janashakthi.
Dr.Samatha Deshamane, Dept of Sociology,Bangalore University.
Mr.Basavaraj Gurikar, President, Karnataka School Teachers Assn.
Mr.Jayaram, President, Karnataka SDMC co-ordination committee.

Solidarity messages: Representatives from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala.
Present on the stage: Thayaraj Marchethal, Dalitha Sahithya Parishad, Raichur.
K.C.Rajakanth, Dalitha Sangharsha Samiti, Kolar.
Kaidal Krishnamurthi, ‘VIVEKA’, Surapur.
Siddaraju, Slum dwellers organisation, Mandya.
Smt.Latha and Smt.Nirmala, Mid day meals workers orgn.
And also the representatives of the states Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal.

Member organizations of SSJ: Karnataka Jakashakthi, Dalitha Sangarsha Samithi. Lankesh Balaga, Sindhanur, Navu- Neevu Balaga, K.R.Pet. Rangapayana, Mandya. Karnataka vidyarthi sanghatane.
Please Do Participate to Rebuild Education for a Real Democratic India