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Nagaland

Seminar on RTE, commercialization & communalization of education

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By EMN Updated: Nov 06, 2014 12:50 am
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Our Correspondent
KOHIMA, NOVEMBER 5

As part of its North East leg of the All India Shiksha Sangharsh Yatra (AISSY), the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) on Wednesday organized a seminar on right to education, commercialization and communalization of education at DUDA Guest House, Kohima, hosted by the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF).
The AISSY is a nationwide campaign against commercialization and communalization of education and for establishment of a fully state-funded and free common education system from ‘KG to PG’ in order to achieve the Constitutional goal of building a democratic, secular, socialist, just, egalitarian and humane society. The Yatra commenced from November 2 in five different regions (zones) of the country including north-east, south, north, east and west India and will culminate in Bhopal on December 4, 2014.
Speaking at the seminar here as a resource person, AIFRTE presidium member and political scientist, Prof. G Haragopal said every citizen of India, whether rich or poor, is entitled to quality education. He stated that India had “one common school” till the mid 1980s, then gradually the education system in the country got commercialized and in due course of time, thousands of government schools and many colleges and universities failed or got shut down or auctioned to private entities.
He pointed out that one of the demands of the AIFRTE is to revert back to the common school so that prosperity and poverty can coexist. “We are opposed to corporatization and communalization of education… We are for secular education,” he asserted. Underscoring that education is a conscience of a nation and that it must respond to social ‘needs’ and not ‘wants’, Prof. Haragopal stressed on the need for education that can train the younger generation to respect all the facets of diversity of the country.
He said the present education system is a vicious circle including the Centre’s Right to Education Act (RTE) 2009. Pointing out anomalies in the RTE Act, he said to begin with, the Act defines ‘Child’ in the age group of 6-14. As per this, he questioned as to what the children in the age groups of 0-6 years and 14-18 years should be called, as 18 years is the criteria a citizen is considered as adult and recognized as eligible to vote or to drive a vehicle. Also, he said the Act denies elementary education of equitable quality even to children of 6-14 years of age, and that it neither develops government schools nor regulates private schools.
Haragopal said a people’s movement is needed to change the system of education and AIFRTE had mulled and decided that the nationwide yatra will be conducted in order to open a public debate so that the Indian education system would be saved from globalization, communalization and commercialization.
Department of School Education joint director, R Angami who shared his views at the seminar, observed that as far as RTE Act is concerned, the policy is good but the implementation is not uniform across the country and needs rectification. He candidly stated that many government officials and politicians are vocal in support of the Act without knowing the “head or tail” about the Act. “We are talking about free education but education is becoming more and more expensive,” he remarked.
Nagaland Board of School Education chairperson, Asano Sekhose while stating that the RTE Act sounds good in theory, she expressed concern that the provision for ‘non-detention’ could dilute and hamper the quality of education for young students.
AIFRTE strongly advocates that the government take a relook at the Act as it observes that the Act has provisions to allow private managements to hike fees as they like and to intensify the pace of commercialization; provides for siphoning off public funds to private operators through reimbursement; opens flood gates through commercialization of school education under reimbursement scheme; not only institutionalizes the present multi layered and unequal school system but also further widens inequalities and discrimination in all dimensions; and ends up in closure of government schools and takes the school system precisely in opposite direction to the cherished common school system.
AIFRTE national executive member Surjit Singh Thokchom, Education consultant & activist M Lochun Kalita and a host of officials from the state school education department, Nagaland University, State College of Teachers’ Education, SCERT, NSF and local student bodies attended the seminar

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By EMN Updated: Nov 06, 2014 12:50:58 am