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SFI Holds Protest in Kolkata Challenging New Education Policy, Cites Adverse Impact on Underprivileged Students

The Leftist students' organisation launched a protest with prominent education sector figures joining in support.

Kolkata: The New Education Policy (NEP) implemented by the central government faces forceful opposition in Kolkata as the Student Federation of India (SFI) launched a protest with prominent education sector figures joining in support.

Highlighting that the NEP will impact the future of learners, the West Bengal State Committee of the Students Federation of India (SFI) held a day-night protest at College Street in Kolkata. The Left-affiliated students' organisation proclaimed, "The state will never allow the central government's New Education Policy (NEP) to be implemented. The NEP severely undermines the education of disadvantaged students across the nation. The four-year degree program is a mere act, and the one-year master's course is inadequate."

Known for its significant contributions to the Bengal Renaissance, College Street is an iconic educational hub with several prominent colleges.

On Friday, a massive rally led by students marched from College Street Crossing to the Moulali area of Central Kolkata. Prior to that, a day-night protest was held from Thursday evening to Friday morning. The protest saw participation from hundreds of student activists from renowned universities in the state, including Calcutta University, Presidency University, and Jadavpur University. 

Education sector luminaries such as Former Vice Chancellor Prof Pabitra Sarkar joined the protest. He delivered a speech at the demonstration venue, denouncing the attempt to impose the NEP as a derogatory act aimed at communalising the entire educational system in the country.

In his speech, Prof Pabitra Sarkar, along with other esteemed education figures, warned against the fundamental changes proposed by the NEP, particularly the four-year degree program and one-year master's study. He argues that these changes would have adverse effects on students' future. He also cautioned against what he called the "Manuwadi alterations" that the NEP aims to introduce, which diminish the rational elements within the realm of education. Poet Mandakranta Sen, Prof Ambikesh Mahapatra, and theatre activist Chandan Sen were also present during the sit-in demonstration and expressed their thoughts to the participants.

During his address, SFI State Secretary Srijan Bhattacharya fiercely criticised the New Education Policy, asserting that both the TMC-led state government and the BJP-led Union government are unified when it comes to the NEP. He labelled them as accomplices and condemned the recent attempts by the state government to implement the NEP in West Bengal as a blatant example of one following the other in the field of education. 

Bhattacharya claimed that this education policy is driven by the ideas of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological parent, and highlighted how the alteration of students' history syllabi to incorporate "Manuwadi versions" exemplifies the RSS's encroachment in education. 

Furthermore, he pointed out that the NEP's inclusion of various credit points in the four-year degree program discourages students from completing their education, instead allowing them to exit the system with only a diploma. He warned that these diplomas would hold no value, rendering graduates worthless to employers and perpetuating the supply of cheap, uneducated labour in industries.

It is worth noting that, in response to widespread protests, the state government formed a high-powered committee led by Jadavpur University VC Suranjan Das to review the New Education Policy. The committee is expected to provide its recommendations within a month, and its findings are eagerly anticipated.

SFI State President Pratikur Rehman also addressed the day-night protest, highlighting how the TMC government, upon assuming power, halted college body elections and curtailed democratic processes within colleges and universities. He further criticised the BJP's attempts to dismantle the education system by introducing detrimental changes.

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