The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) Tamil Nadu state committee will take out a cycle rally from May 25 to 31, with a call to protect government schools and public education. The rally starting from four different locations of the state will merge in Trichy with a public meeting.
At a time when the state and central governments are keen on privatising education, SFI has taken a decision to take out the rally demanding an increase in public spending on education.
The SFI has also demanded immediate distribution of around Rs 1,400 crore for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’ students by the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. The other demands include scrapping of the National Entrance and Eligibility Test (NEET) exam for the students of Tamil Nadu.
Act Against Private Schools Charging Excess Fee
SFI has also urged the state government to take action against the private schools charging exorbitant fees. The Masilamani Commission sat up for monitoring the schools charging high fees has not been able to take action against any schools so far. The very purpose of setting up the commission has not yielded any results. With the government more inclined towards privatisation of schools, the students belonging to economically and socially backward classes are deprived of opportunities for education.
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Implement RTE in All Schools Without Any Discrimination
The Right to Education (RTI) act has mandated 25% of seats to be reserved without any fees for the economically backward students. However, in private schools the allotment of reserved seats remains only in paper while no students get the benefit of the Act.
By creating fake records, the private schools create a false image of implementing the Act. Not only that the schools also claim the fees from the state government for these students and also charge the fees from the students resulting in double income for the schools.
Protect Government Schools and Strengthen Public Education
The Narendra Modi led government after coming to power has been in destruction mode as far the education sector is concerned. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) has mandated education be made as a commodity. India is a party to this agreement and since the implementation of neo-liberal policies since 1991, the role of private giants had increased tremendously in the education sector. Financial allocation has seen a steep decrease in the budgets for education continuously. The promise of the successive governments to increase spending on education remains only on papers.
The Tamil Nadu government went a step ahead by inviting private agencies and corporates to adopt government schools. This move had attracted strong criticism from educationalists and academicians. The government, however, remains stubborn on implementing the step, which has also raised the insecurity of teachers and other staff involved in the sector. This compromise will lead to further alienation of the oppressed from education.
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SFI Rally to Cover 1,500 kms Across the State
The SFI rally will cover around 1,500 kilometres across the length and breadth of the state. Mariappan, SFI Tamil Nadu state secretary while speaking to NewsClick said, “The government should not move away from public education. The state and central governments are interested in burdening the public by reducing the spending on education and encouraging the big corporate and foreign institutions. The government’s statement that the spending on education had raised its burden makes no sense as it is the duty of the government.”
“The decision of the state government to merge schools will only lead to closure of schools making the students travel longer distance to access education. The SFI cadres will lead the fight against the policies of both the central and state governments and ensure that every student has access to free public education soon,” he added.
The rallies which will start from Chennai, Coimbatore, Chidambaram and Kanyakumari, will be inaugurated by former SFI leaders, educationalists and academicians. A huge public meeting is also planned to be conducted in Trichy where the rallies culminate.
The Left Democratic Front government in Kerala has set a model by strengthening public education as a result of which lakhs of students leave private schools to join government schools every year. The Kerala model is the one to emulate not only by other state governments but also by the central government, particularly in areas like education and health care.
Read More: Kerala’s Public Schools See Rise in Enrolment for Third Year