The All India Forum for Right To Education (AIFRTE) organised a meeting in New Delhi on November 11, 2021, demanding the repeal of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. It also demanded that students from all socio-economic backgrounds be provided the same quality of education. The public meeting which saw participation from students, parents and teachers, as well as organisations working in the field of education, was held at Jantar Mantar.
The AIFRTE and participant organisations like the AISA, Disha Foundation, AIRSO, AMSU, KYS, DYFI and SFI among others submitted resolutions on higher education to Education Ministries of union and state governments. Members also demanded the reopening of schools and colleges.
Speaking against the NEP 2020, AIFRTE Organising Secretary Dr Vikas Gupta said the new policy implements an RSS agenda of communalisation of education and opposes the secular framework of the Constitution. “It is totally against the students, especially those who are Dalits, Adivasis, religious and linguistic minorities, disabled and LQBTQIA+. This policy aggravates the caste-based and communal divide in education,” he said.
Similarly, other participants spoke about how the policy turns education into another ‘sector for financial investment’ for profit generation. In other words, experts worried that the policy will allow only those people with money to access quality education.
All India Revolutionary Students Organisation (AIRSO) student Niranjan said, “The NEP 2020 is a neo-colonial assault on Indian education. It converts education from the status of a right to a commodity.” According to the AIFRTE, the policy puts undue focus on an imagined and historically fallacious idea of the “golden period” and snubs logical and egalitarian thinking. Further, there are concerns that the division between vocational and formal education will widen the caste divide.
One of the pointed criticisms of the NEP 2020 is in its omission of the constitutionally mandated reservation policy. It also does not mention the 200-point roster system. The AIFRTE argued that issues of social justice are sacrificed in the name of ‘merit’ thereby further marginalising the historically oppressed groups and communities. Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) student Dinesh said, “The casteist essence of NEP 2020 is against the needs of the Dalits and tribals. The government wants the Brahmanical prejudices to overhaul the right to Education of them.”
Similarly, BSCEM student Sangeeta said, “Education has been extensively vocationalised so that the lower caste students would remain in their own traditional caste-based jobs.”
Concerned students and teachers said the education policy is another tool for the BJP government to centralise its power and follow the mandates of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in establishing the single window system. In doing so, it violates the federal rights of states on educational decisions, a subject included in the concurrent list, ensures privatisation of higher education and promotes the communal and casteist idea of Hindu Rashtra, said the AIFRTE.
Reinforcing these claims various students voiced their solidarity with the Forum. Pachhas student organisation member Priyanka also spoke about the added impact of online education in the last two years, “Online education has totally deprived poor students of slums from fair education. We have to go to the common people and convey how NEP2020 destroys our right to education.”
Towards the conclusion of the event Gupta spoke about a national-level AIFRTE campaign on December 24 to protest the exclusionary provisions of the NEP 2020.
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