On 21st September 2020, progressive students’ organisations including AIDSO, AISA, AISF, BSCEM, Collective, Disha, DSU, KYS, Pachhas, PDSU, Pinjra Tod and SFI organised a protest at Jantar Mantar against National Education Policy 2020 and a joint memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister demanding repeal of NEP-20.
Students from different parts of Delhi gathered in the protest. Although Guidelines of Ministry of Home Affairs have stated that political gatherings up to 100 people will be allowed from 21st of September, the police refused permission. Activists were threatened by police to face consequences. Despite this a demonstration was held.
The programme started by raising slogans against NEP and demanding education for all. The speakers kept in their speech that BJP led central government introduced NEP-20 in the context of a global pandemic where India is one of the worst hit countries. The rushed and undemocratic manner in which NEP-20, which aims to make sweeping changes in education of the country, was enacted without democratic consultation or discussion in the Parliament, has been widely criticized. This policy document serves as a blueprint for privatisation, commercialisation, centralisation, vocationalisation and communalisation of education. The gradual defunding of education by this government over the years reaches its logical outcome in the ‘Public-Philanthropic-Partnership’ model proposed in NEP where public higher educational institutions will be sold off to the highest bidder through graded autonomy, grants will be replaced with loans through HEFA and private investors encouraged through a complete overhaul of the existing regulatory mechanisms.
It is our strong opinion that this step by the government is a clear agenda of excluding majority from accessing quality education, turning it into a commodity for investment by big corporate houses to satisfy the market needs. The desired objective of education which is to develop critical faculties of all through scientific and democratic knowledge towards building an egalitarian and just society, is made further unattainable through a Hindutva state-corporatec ontrol over the content and practice of education which seeks to further entrench and exploit the already existing caste, class, gender and communal divisions in the society.
As resistance against discriminatory education practices during the Covid19 crisis has been surging across the country, speakers appealed to everyone to build a strong and united resistance against NEP-20 as part of our struggle for affordable, accessible, scientific and democratic education for all.