JOINT FORUM FOR MOVEMENT ON EDUCATION
As you are aware, public-funded education in India is facing an unprecedented attack by the Central Government in terms of withdrawal of funding, hollowing out of academic and scientific content and subversion of its democratic and inclusive character.
Recent policy measures, implemented under the three-year agenda of the Niti Ayog without wider debate or scrutiny, that are pushing Universities and Colleges into a self-financing mode include the Regulations on Graded Autonomy and Autonomous Colleges, the replacement of grants by loans from the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), the HECI Bill (that will replace the UGC with a body under the direct control of Government, with draconian monitoring powers but no role in giving grants) and a Tripartite MOU that all Central Universities are being coerced to sign (under which Universities have to generate resources to pay back loans by raising students fees). Combined with severe budgetary cuts, a sharp reduction in UGC grant to State Universities, large scale closure of government schools, withdrawal of funding from research bodies (especially Centres for Studies on Exclusion based on gender, caste and community), curtailment of scholarships and fellowships and dilution of the Reservation Policies in open violation of the Constitutional mandate, this policy assault is putting quality education beyond the reach of most Indians, especially those from marginalised sections, Dalits, tribals, women and the differently-abled. As a result of these policies, lakhs of teaching and non-teaching posts are lying vacant. Permanent appointments, promotions and pensions have been held up for years.
Along with the above, there is direct interference in academic functioning by imposition of uniform courses and curriculum through CBCS, and an academically counter-productive semester system. Syllabi and text books, orientation and refresher courses, lists of journals, etc. are being tailored to promote obscurantist, unscientific and communal content that threaten our core Constitutional values.
Resistance to the above is sought to be crushed through systematic attacks on Unions, organised violence, filing of false cases, arbitrary arrests and the imposition of Civil Service Rules to curb academic freedom and dissent in Universities. The latest is the move to incorporate in the Delhi University Act the infamous ESMA that was used along with MISA during the Emergency, and subsequently to crush workers’ struggles against commercialisation and privatisation. Widespread protests have led to a withdrawal of this draconian measure.
To meet the grave challenge posed by these developments, the AIFUCTO and FEDCUTA, School Teachers’ Federation of India, All India Secondary Teachers’ Federation, All India Federation of Elementary Teachers’ Organisations, All-India Federation of Universities and
Colleges Non-Teaching Employees, All-India Forum for Right to Education , All India Save Education Committee, and several Students’ Organisations and Parents’ Associations have come together to form a Joint Forum for Movement on Education (JFME).
The JFME plans to have an All – India Convention on “Crisis of Education in India and People’s Initiatives”, on 29th October, 2018, from 11 am to 3 pm, at the Mavlankar Auditorium, New Delhi, in which people from across the country will be participating, to create a nationwide movement to defend scientific, democratic, affordable, quality public-funded education for all.
We appeal to you to circulate the invitation widely in your University so as to motivate students, teachers and non-teaching employees from your University to attend the Convention in large numbers.
(Gen Secy AIFUCTO)