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India: Crisis in Higher Education - A national convention organised by Joint Forum for Movement on Education | Press Release 29 Oct 2018

1 November

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Press Release, 29 October: Teachers and students from across the country come together for a Convention on Crisis in Higher Education

The JOINT FORUM FOR MOVEMENT ON EDUCATION successfully organised a Mass National Convention of all national organisations of teachers, students and parents who are active in elementary, primary, secondary and tertiary levels of Education in India. The well-attended Convention took place at the Mavalankar Auditorium in New Delhi today, October 29, 2018.

A composite platform of 25 unions in the Education Sector, the JFME has been created to build a mass movement of all stakeholders in Public-funded Education and campaign to restore Public Trust, Equity, Access, Scientific Temper and Constitutional values in Education. The Convention served to bring home the acute crisis facing Education in India and the concomitant threat to Constitutional idea of India as well as democratic aspirations of its people, brought about by recurrent official neglect, rampant commercialisation, coercive centralisation of authority and communalisation prevalent in Education Policy and Governance. Teachers and students from states such as Maharashtra, UP, Bihar, Orissa, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jharkhand, Punjab, Assam and Meghalaya participated in the Convention and shared their experiences.

Former Vice-Chancellor of Mumbai University and Rajya Sabha member Prof. Bhalchandra Mungekar delivered the Keynote Address in which he slammed successive governments for neglecting the role and potential of Education in nation-building. He argued that the deplorable state of Indian Education is the result of continuous reduction in budgetary allocations, commodification and encouragement to market forces in policy, and corporatisation of governance. Prof. Mungekar also pointed out the deeply worrying fact that 37% teaching posts across Public-funded colleges and universities in India remain vacant. Deteriorating pupil-teacher ratio in classrooms and contractualisation of teaching jobs has led to a sharp decline in the quality of Education. On the other hand, coercive interference of the State in matters of appointments and diktats related to curricula and mode of teaching-learning has resulted in the absence of creativity and intellectual autonomy. Prof. Mungekar expressed regret at the fact that the appointment of Vice-Chancellors across central and state universities is done without a modicum of transparency. While expressing solidarity with JFME, he emphasised the moral responsibility of all concerned citizens to strengthen the collective voice of unions struggling to defend Public-funded Education in India, prevent the closure/ merger of schools and colleges, safeguard the rights of students and teachers, strengthen institutional accountability and put pressure on the government to extend the Right to Education to Higher Education.

The Convention was addressed by Nilotpal Basu (former Rajya Sabha member and leader of the CPIM), D Raja (former Rajya Sabha member and leader of CPI) and Rajeev Gowda ( former Rajya Sabha member and leader of INC). Kavita Krishnan of CPI-ML, Sudhakar Reddy of CPI, Pratap Samal of SUCI-Communist and Mrigank from CPI (ML) New Democracy also addressed the Convention and extended solidarity to the Movement. The day-long Convention saw the participation of the following organisations:

AIFUCTO, FEDCUTA, DUTA, All India Federation of Retired University and College Teachers Organizations, All India University Employees Confederation, School Teachers Federation of India, All India Secondary Teachers Federation, All India Federation of Elementary Teachers Organizations, Indian Public Service Employees Federation, All India Anganwadi Workers Association, AISA, AISF, AIDSO, NSUI, SFI, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, All India Minority Students Association, All India Backward Students Association, Ambedkar Group of Students, PACHAAS, PDSU, AIFRTE, AISEC, Jan Sangharsh Morcha, Bharatiya Abhibhavak Sangh, Delhi Abhibhavak Sangh and State Platform for Common School System, Tamil Nadu.

Rajib Ray, President, FEDUCTA and DUTA

Arun Kumar, General Secretary, AIFUCTO