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New Policy Will Turn Education Into Commodity for Investment, Say Students

Students protesting against NEP

The student leaders criticised the BJP-led Central government’s move to introduce NEP 2020 amid the global pandemic despite India being one of the worst-hit countries

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

 NEW DELHI – Leftist students’ organisations held a protest at Jantar Mantar against the New Education Policy 2020 ((NEP 2020) on Monday, and submitted a joint memorandum to the Prime Ministers’ office demanding repeal of the newly-introduced education policy.

“The police tried to stop the protest. They told us about Section 144 being implemented in the area and held out a threat to arrest us. Despite that, the students staged their protest”, said Deepak of Parivartankari Chhatra Sangathan (PACHHAS).

“Despite the fact that the Central Government has allowed the protest of 100 people from September 21, the democratic right to protest is being attacked citing coronavirus”, he added.

The Home Ministry recently extended its prohibitory orders on all types of political functions/gatherings and large congregations from September 20 to 30.

The student leaders criticised the BJP-led Central government’s move to introduce NEP 2020 amid the global pandemic despite India being one of the worst-hit countries. Students said that NEP 2020 was enacted without any democratic consultation or discussion in Parliament.

Calling the NEP 2020 a blueprint of privatisation, commercialisation, vocationalisation and communalisation of education, Shreya Singh, state secretary of All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO), said, “On the one hand, it will make education a commodity to satisfy market needs and, on the other hand, it will adversely ruin the real purpose of education which is the process of character-building. The primary focus of an education policy should be to provide education to all.”

“On the contrary, this policy, in beautifully-knitted and confusing words, works upside down. We demand to roll back the disastrous NEP 2020 to save education as well as society”, she added.

Pointing out the gradual defunding of education, many students said that the Public-Philanthropic-Partnership’ model proposed in the new policy was a design to sell public higher educational institutions to the highest bidder through graded autonomy.

“The grants will be replaced with loans through the Higher Education Financing Agency (a joint venture company of Canara Bank and Ministry of Education) and private investors will be encouraged through a complete overhaul of the existing regulatory mechanisms,” said a student leader.

The protesters strongly believe that this step by the government is a clear agenda of excluding a majority of students from accessing quality education, turning it into a commodity for investment by big corporate houses to satisfy the market needs.

“The existing dual education system of private and government schools is already perpetuating inequality in society. Through the new NEP, the BJP government is promoting inequality by bringing in vocationalisation for poor and marginalised community students, thereby pushing them into the labour market”, said Nalini, Delhi State Committee Member of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS).

“At higher education levels, through merging of higher education institutions and emphasising ODL (open and distance learning) mode, the government is pushing millions of students into  informal education”, she added.

Students’ organisations who participated in the protest included  AIDSO, AISA, AISF, BSCEM, Collective, Disha, DSU, KYS, Pachhas, PDSU, Pinjra Tod and SFI.

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