Babulal Jain (Chairman)
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar: What is the opinion of your organisation on the current education policy?
Babulal Jain: There is a need for a fundamental change in the current education policy. The consequences of the current education policy are very scary. Officers are committing suicide under the pressure of the government and administration. Students are committing suicide under academic pressure. There has to be a balance. Education policy should be based on the requirement of society. If you evaluate the children from poor and backward sections of society on the same basis as the children of elite, then the backward communities will not be able to come forward. Everyone talks of common education system; that it should be balanced; that it should be based on equality, but nothing has been done in this direction so far. On the contrary, even the syllabus is being politicised in Rajasthan.
MEL: What do you think of privatisation of education?
Babulal Jain: Our organisation is fighting against privatisation. We are fighting against the PPP model. Under the PPP model, government is privatising all good schools. If the government wants to push privatisation, let it do it distant, difficult to reach areas where there is dearth of educational facilities. The private companies are after the prime land in cities. Under the PPP model, the government will provide everything – school buildings and salaries of staff. Already the teachers in private schools are highly exploited; this will further increase their exploitation.
With privatisation, fees will be increased to a level that they would not be affordable to the poor. Most of the children who cannot afford the high fees will be deprived of education.
MEL: What are the inconsistencies in staffing pattern and integration? What is the objection to increasing the teaching hours?
Babulal Jain: Teacher is a thinking person. Government says that teacher has to work for 8 hours. If the teacher is made to teach for 8 hours, then when will he think, when will he do his own study, when will he plan his lectures? The work of a teacher is not merely to teach. He has to prepare study material, for which he has to think and prepare. By increasing the teaching hours, government is creating obstacles in achieving quality education. Rajasthan government has closed down thousands of schools after integrating them.
Rajasthan government has changed the curriculum, changed the text books. Government wants to include the National Emergency in the text books but does not want to include the demolition of Babri Masjid. This should also be included in the text books because it destroyed the social harmony in our country; led to the killing of so many people and the big leaders who led the destruction have not been punished. We will have to also teach who among the latter were rewarded with Governorships and Ministerial posts. History is history, how can you treat events differently?
MEL: What is the situation of those teachers who are employed on contractual basis or those who are working on projects?
Babulal Jain: We stand for the same salary for similar work. No one should be hired on contract. Teachers should be appointed on permanent posts. A project is for a definite period of time and ends after some time. You cannot abandon students after giving them education for some time and not having a system for them to continue their education. Government is closing down on schools rather than opening new ones.
Ram Lubhaya Tinna (District President, Hanumangarh)
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar: What is staffing pattern and why is it not good?
Ram Lubhaya: We oppose the staffing pattern because, although, it creates posts for teachers and even posts for subject teachers, but it cuts down on the total number of teachers' posts. This will lead to a reduction in the opportunities for the youth in the future. It makes the Grade 3 subject teachers surplus which is very harmful.
MEL: What is your view on the integration of schools by the government and the education policy of the government?
Ram Lubhaya: Under integration, government has closed down the schools in distant hamlets and villages. These school buildings have become useless. The children in these hamlets and villages are now deprived of education and the number of drop-outs in integrated schools has increased. Girls have given up their education in the middle because the new schools are too far for them.
The new education policy of the government is not satisfactory. At the same time, the syllabus that is being developed is not in consultation with subject experts but with politicians who have no expertise in education. Study material that we should be getting from subject experts is not being made available to us. Political interference has increased because of involvement of politicians. This has led to the syllabus becoming less effective.
Now transfers are being done on the recommendations of politicians. We, on the other hand, are demanding that there should be transparency in transfers and there should be no political interference.
MEL: What is you strategy to oppose the policy of privatisation of education?
Ram Lubhaya: Our organisation opposes privatisation of education in all forms. With privatisation of education there will be less opportunity for employment and the number of government schools will come down. Children of poor and low-income families will be deprived of education as they will not be able to afford the high fees. We have decided on a strategy in our organisation and we have started our struggle at district, tehsil and state levels. We have started by submitting our petitions and we will escalate our struggle later.
Our organisation is fighting to completely end the capitalist system. At the same time, we are also pushing for the government to implement the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.