Third meeting on “Why not education of same quality for all?”

A web meeting on “Why not education of same quality for all?” was jointly organised by the  Jai Maharashtra Shikshak Karmachari Sen (JMSKS), Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) and Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) on October 11, 2020. Members of the JMSKS, who are principals, teachers and non-academic staff of the private aided primary schools in Mumbai, participated in the meeting. Besides them, other participants included the Ahmednagar District General Secretary of the Maharashtra Rajya Prathamik Shikshak Mahasangh, Shri Vitthal Urmude, as well as principals, teachers, students, college professors and concerned citizens.

Shri Sandip Parab, General Secretary, JMSKS conducted the meeting. Girish of Lok Raj Sangathan made the main presentation. Shri Vijay Patil (President of JMSKS), A Mathew (Secretary, KEC) and Sanjeewani Jain (Vice President, LRS) addressed the meeting. Other speakers included Shri Ramesh Bijekar, Convener, Satyashodhak Shikshak Sabha from Nagpur and member of All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) and Shri Prabhakar Arade, President AIFETO and member of AIFRTE from Kolhapur.

Shri Vijay Patil thanked KEC and LRS for highlighting such a vital issue for society as equal education for all. He pointed out the great difficulties that the staff, students and parents face in the education system, because successive governments have failed to fulfil their responsibilities. Their policies have driven down the standards of both government and private schools to the lowest level. On the one hand, we have students sitting in airconditioned classrooms with every facility available and on the other, students who sit on the bare ground, with pigs feeding nearby. There is gross inequality in service conditions as well. There are instances of teachers drawing a monthly salary of Rs. 60,000 teaching a particular class in a school, whereas a teacher on contract is teaching the same syllabus to another division of the same class at a monthly remuneration of just Rs. 6000!

Shri Bijekar congratulated the JMSKS and KEC for focusing on the issue of equal education. Over the years, instead of strengthening government schools, various ruling parties have done the opposite. They want to preserve the stratification that exists in society. To preserve their rule, the rulers do not use just force. They also promote a certain culture and spread certain thoughts and views for the same. Despite the hype in the media about the “revolutionary” New Education Policy 2020, it is taking education further on the road of stratification, privatisation and commercialisation.

The speakers were in agreement with the presentation made by Girish and elaborated various points in it. If the rulers want to, they can provide education of equally good quality to all. In Maharashtra, in 1917, Shahu Maharaj, the ruler of Kolhapur, made primary school education compulsory for all. He was a very enlightened ruler and he established schools where children of all castes and communities studied together. Hindus, Muslims and Christian students lived together in the same hostel. Shri Arade pointed out that the maharaja’s budget for public education exceeded that of the entire province of Bombay, extending right up to Karachi, which was under the British!  The British rulers had no intention to educate everyone. They just wanted to preserve their rule by creating officers steeped in the idea of British superiority as well as clerks who would follow orders.

Likewise, after independence the new ruling class consisting of Indian capitalists, zamindars and princes wanted to preserve their privileged position. They wanted to preserve the stratification and hierarchy in society, so they maintained the stratification in education. The rulers want most of the population to be poorly educated or even uneducated, so that they would be compelled to work for low salaries and not demand their rights!

It is possible to achieve universal and equal education, but we have to unite and fight for that as they did in other countries. In our own country, women as well as people of some castes had to fight and sacrifice to win their right to education. Such examples continue to inspire us!

India has no dearth of resources. It is a rich country with poor people. People’s money is splurged on what the ruling class wants, but when it comes to giving good education, giving good working conditions to teachers and staff, successive governments have been niggardly in the extreme.

No country in the world has managed to educate all its citizens without a common school system. So we have to fight for that. This means we have to oppose the privatisation and commercialisation of education.

Leaders of the JMSKS supported all the demands put forward by the KEC, LRS and other organisations – of increasing the budget on education, of a common school system entailing equal education to all students and equal service conditions to all teachers and staff – and declared that they would pressurise all the MPs. MLAs and other representatives who reside in Mumbai to fulfil them. They would also use all means possible to get other organisations on board and also to make the parents of their students aware. All the speakers expressed the determination of their respective organisations to fight together for the realisation of the right to universal and equal education. They committed to work together and use various media to spread awareness among different sections of the population.

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