Recently the government of Rajasthan declared that it will hand over 300 government schools to private entities to operate under Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model. Following this declaration students, teachers and parents, and people across the state came on to the street to oppose this blatantly anti-social decision of the government.
On 22 September 2017, villagers in Bhadra and Nohar blocks protested against this decision of the government. A number of organisations came together at the Bhagat Singh Square to oppose this attack on people’s rights. They also organised meetings to make people aware of this.
Lok Raj Sangathan’s All India Council’s Vice President Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Member of Districts Council Mangej Chaudhari, Madan Beniwal of Aam Aadmi Party, President of Bharat Swabhimaan Manch, Ratan Arora, Satvir Sharma, SFI District Secretary Anil Shoran, NDB College General Secretary Pushp Saini, Balraj Sharma of Berojgaar Shikshak Sangh, addressed the protestors. They pointed out that handing over the schools to PPP was akin to privatization and the government is reneging on its obligation to the people of providing basic needs like water, electricity, transport, and now education. The government is hell bent on changing the definition of the duties of the State. They warned the government that if it does not reverse the decision of handing over the government schools to PPP, they will intensify their struggle. Advocate Rajendra Sihag, Rakesh Mehra of Kisaan Sabha, SFI Block President Anil Gadhwal, and Suresh Swami were amongst the others who addressed the meeting.
Following the meeting, representatives of various organisations along with the school children took out a march to the Sub-Divisional Office, raising slogans against the decision of the government. They submitted a petition to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) addressed to the Chief Minister, opposing the decision of the government to handover the government school to private entities to run on PPP model. They also sat on a one-day token strike.
Earlier, Hanuman Prasad Sharma, All India Vice President, Lok Raj Sangathan and former president of Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh (Pragatisheel) had appealed to the people to participate in the mass demonstration to be held on 22 September. He gave the example of Adarsh Higher Secondary School in Nohar, which is a government school, having 1800 students. As a result of untiring efforts by the teachers and educationists, the school had achieved top notch performance. The school has also produced players of high calibre. Now this is also being handed over to be operated under PPP model. Of the 300 schools being handed over to be operated under PPP model, this school has been listed at number 42.
The petition stated that the schools which have attained high level of quality and performance are being privatized. These school are situated within dense populations. These school have playgrounds, school building and land that is worth crores of rupees, which has been donated by various educationists and philanthropists. In such a situation the government has no moral right to hand over the schools to be operated under PPP. People should rise above party affiliations and ideologies and actively participate in this struggle. The students should definitely participate in the struggle, but they should also inspire and motivate their parents, relatives, neighbours, sarpanch, block members, zone members, chairman and councillors of Municipal Corporation to participate in the agitation because what the government is doing is being confused in the media.
Following the 22 September demonstration, on 25 September Guruji Hanuman Prasad Sharma issued an appeal to the people to agitate unitedly against the anti-social offensive of the government. The appeal stated that “on 25 September we contacted the office bearers of a number of organisations. All the organisations have agreed to extend their full support to the agitation. Tomorrow at 11 AM we are meeting at the Municipal Corporation office. Following that we will be submitting a petition to the Chief Minster through the SDM office. We appeal to all the citizen brothers and sisters, students, youth, farmers, workers, traders and people from all sections of the society, to gather at the Municipal Corporation office at 11AM and strengthen our struggle. We also appeal to all the people’s representatives – sarpanch, block members, zone members, and members of Municipal Corporation to gather at the venue. Some people are spreading confusion, saying that the order has not yet been passed by the government. I appeal to all such people not to wait, as the situation will become very grave once the order is passed by the government. The decision has been taken at the cabinet level. The government is gauging people’s mood. This agitation does not belong to any one party, this is an agitation to defend the interest of the people. It is the duty of every conscious citizens to warn the government against such anti-social measures. If we do not fulfil our duty, the coming generations will never forgive us for our inaction.