“Revitalisation, not Privatisation of Education Sector is necessary”

Experts at Education Session of Janta Parliament urge the government to rethink on Education New Policy, 2020

New Delhi, 18 August, 2020. RTE Forum’ and ‘Nine is Mine’ along with several People’s Networks like Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development; Civil Society Organizations and different movements have collectively held a Janta Parliament (Jan Sansad) on 17th August 2020, to discuss the critical issues on education that emerged during Covid-19 pandemic.  Altogether 9 resolutions were passed on different and crucial aspects of education by the Janta Parliament for complete implementation and extension of the RTE Act, 2009 up to 18 years and creating a strong national public education system.

Along with this, the Parliament expressed serious concerns and unanimously agreed on the need to act immediately for the education, health and nutrition of the children of migrant workers who have been facing massive challenges due to the sudden lockdown in the country.  Grassroots activists and movements along with youth leaders and children presented testimonies regarding deepening of inequalities in education during COVID-19 crisis and asked for accountability of the state.

Eminent MPs Prof. Manoj Jha, Mohammad Jawed and politician Prof. Rajeev Gowda also participated in the Janta Parliament when the resolutions related to different issues were moved. They appreciated the coming of so many voices together and expressed solidarity.

Among others,  Prof. Nandita Narain, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA);  Prof. Madhu Prasad, Member, Presidium, All India Forum for Right to Education;  Asha Mishra, Vice-President, BGVS; Dr. C. Ramakrishnan, BGVS, Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad;  Ashutosh, Education Minister, Children’s Parliament, Nine is Mine; Farida Bano & Rashmi Maruwada, Indian Youth Federation; Mujahid Nafees, RTE Forum, Gujarat & Convenor, Minority Coordination Committee, Rakesh Kumar, Bihar Viklang Adhikar Manch; Anil Pradhan, Convenor, Odisha RTE Forum and Rajesh Kumar, State Collective for  Right to Education, Uttar Pradesh were key speakers in the House.

The Janta Parliament’s session on education was chaired by Prof. Shanta Sinha, former chairperson of NCPCR.

In her inaugural address, Prof. Shanta Sinha said that NEP instead of strengthening the RTE Act 2009 has diluted it on many grounds. Further, she said that the NEP has on many counts have reduced students, teachers and citizens, to mere consumers making them subject to the market forces. She further added that formulating a policy for 2035 doesn’t make much sense to children as it will not be able to address the issues children are facing today.

Ambarish Rai, National Convener of RTE Forum highlighting the need for a Common School System said that the NEP 2020 doesn’t mention it at all while it has remained a dream for the large common masses of the country since decades with the popular slogan “Nirdhan Ho Ya Ho Dhanwan, Sabki Shiksha Ek Saman”. Adding to this, he said that inequalities embedded in different layers of the education system pose a major challenge to the universalization of education.

The resolutions presented were passed unanimously by nearly 500 participants of the Janta Parliament and upheld the key demands raised through the networks, education experts and activists.

These resolutions are related to Privatization of Education, Extension of Right to Education (RTE) Act, Online Education, School Closure, Language, Medium of Instruction & Tribal and RTE, Health & Nutrition; ‘Discrimination and Exclusion in School Education; National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020): Social Justice and Constitution; Talking about the privatization of education, the resolution said,

“Education is a public good and in line with India’s human rights obligation the government is expected to both bear the prime responsibility for delivery of education and regulating any non-state actors in education.”

The resolution further said,

“Almost 50% of schools in India are now private and the number of private schools is increasing. Total 17% of rural students enrolled in private schools are studying in unrecognized institutions. Private schools have a track record of excluding girls and children with disability. And despite education being, by law, a non-profit domain, private schools continue to make illegitimate profits.”

The Parliament urged upon the government to develop and enforce a comprehensive, regulatory framework for private schools and non-state actors in education and put in place mechanisms to monitor private education providers and hold them accountable for those practices that have a negative impact on the enjoyment of the right to education.

Regarding extension of Right to Education (RTE) Act, the Resolution said,

“Learning begins at birth and is a continuum and a cumulative process, which is to be addressed with quality integrated inputs in an age-appropriate manner. This will ensure school readiness and improved performance of children in primary school, impacting lives of 15.8 crore children under six years in India (Census, 2011).”

“Amend RTE Act to include children up to 18 years, in line with the internationally recognized definition of childhood, by including ECCE, Pre-school and Higher Secondary Education as a justiciable and enforceable right. Strengthen public provisions for ECCE, School Education, and Higher Secondary Education for all under 18 years as per Right to Education Act 2009, and quality standards set by National ECCE Policy 2013 and National Education Policy 2020. Take urgent action to reverse declining expenditure on education as a share of the GDP and bring it to at least 6 of GDP% in line with the global benchmarks and Kothari Commission and NEP 2020 recommendations,” the resolution urged upon the government.

Raising the issue of online education, the resolution said,

“With the encouragement of online education, market control over education will be increased and educational products (children) will be developed to suit industrial-commercial interests. In this way, the future of India will have to suffer serious damage due to neglect of social and national interests.”

“Promotion of online, device-based and distance education should be stopped immediately.  Those portions of the New Education Policy 2020 should be amended that advocate online and device-based education in lieu of formal education,” the resolution urged.

RTE Forum (The Right to Education Forum (RTE Forum) is a platform of national education networks, teachers’ unions, peoples’ movements and prominent educationists with a combined strength of 10,000 NGOs from all over India. The Forum has been working towards building a people’s movement to achieve the goal of equitable and quality education for all children through the realization of the Right to Education Act, 2009- in its true letter and spirit. )

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