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Press Release of Protest Against 'School Choice' Campaign

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  • Vikas Gupta
    Press Release All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) in collaboration with various other individuals and groups/organizations including All India
    Message 1 of 56 , Dec 4, 2012
    Press Release
    All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) in collaboration with
    various other individuals and groups/organizations including All India
    Students’ Association (AISA), LOK SHIKSHAK MANCH, SAMBHAVANA,
    ABHIYAAN organized today a protest demonstration outside India Habitat
    Center, Lodhi Road, New Delhi. A number of educationists, school and
    college/university teachers, students, parents, organizations and
    citizens from all walks of life participated in this protest
    demonstration and signed in solidarity against ‘School Choice’
    Campaign. They chose the aforesaid day and venue for their protest,
    because they wished to register their protest against the ‘School
    Choice’ Campaign agenda of the 4th Annual National Conference
    organized by the NGO (Center for Civil Society) at the IHC on the same
    day. This Conference, the protesters firmly believe, is not an
    academic deliberation but represents vested group interests, a lobby
    of corporate houses and their political, administrative, managerial,
    and academic collaborators having neo-liberal ideology of
    commercialization of education. The protesters categorically stated
    that ‘School Choice’ Campaign with its agenda of PPP and voucher
    schemes, is a conspiracy to siphon huge public funds to corporate
    houses and to relegate majority of children to low-fee teaching shops.
    The protesters underlined the point that it is not merely futile, but
    erroneous and destructive to find the solution to the problem of
    educational inequalities in the ‘School Choice’ model based on voucher
    schemes and ‘public private partnership’ (PPP) in education. Despite
    overwhelming research evidence showing grave concerns and problems
    generated by the introduction of voucher schemes in different
    countries, the advocates of ‘School Choice’ campaign are maneuvering
    to implement this model. The ‘School Choice’ Campaign is propagating
    the dangerous idea that their model would enhance competition amongst
    different education providers guided by profit motifs, which would
    result in the expansion of education market; and thereby, they
    cunningly argue, in the reduction of social inequalities in education.
    On the contrary, the protesters are convinced that the ‘School Choice’
    model would reproduce, aggravate and legitimize inequalities, because
    in the context of different and unregulated fee-structures of
    different schools, rich and poor students would ultimately go to
    separate schools despite being provided with school vouchers by the
    state. They forecasted that the overwhelming majority of students (who
    belong to economically weaker sections) would mostly end-up getting
    admission in low-fee substandard private institutions, as the cloak of
    voucher scheme would enable state to continue to increasingly abdicate
    its constitutional obligation to establish sufficient number of
    well-equipped neighborhood schools.
    ‘School Choice’ model advocates the broadening of ‘choice’ and
    competition rather than advocating radical policies for restructuring
    the entire education system in consonance with the fundamental right
    to equality to ensure education of equitable quality for all children.
    It completely undermines the fundamental difference between education
    and tradable commodities. This campaign intends to replace
    Constitutional principles of equality and social justice with
    neo-liberal ideology of inclusion. This model considers education as a
    profitable business, not as a fundamentally human project of
    individual and social transformation.
    The ‘School Choice’ model is based on some erroneous suppositions
    (without any conclusive research finding) that private schools
    essentially impart better quality education than their Government
    counterparts; and that due to the paucity of State’s resources for
    education, involving private initiative and international agencies of
    global capital is indispensable. In fact, it is a mechanism for
    siphoning huge public money to corporate houses in the name of PPP and
    school vouchers, which would also provide further push to the
    coalition between communal and market interests. The campaigns like
    ‘School Choice’ are both part and result of World Bank-WTO-GATTS
    agenda of education governed by their “structural adjustment policy”,
    which has been a major cause of planned and purposeful distortion of
    public (state) funded system of education in India in the recent
    Not merely the ownership of schools and student admission, the ‘School
    Choice’ campaign sees everything connected with education, such as
    teacher training and their recruitment; preparation of reading
    material and teaching learning aids; management of schools and
    educational ‘outcomes’ through the lens of market values and
    profitability. When education functions as a market-determined value,
    it restricts the collective quest for sharing knowledge, substituting
    this with the need to maximize individual gains measured in market
    price and status. It promotes a competitiveness in which ‘winners’ are
    as isolated as the ‘losers’ they leave behind because it discourages
    the development of democratic solidarities which are essential to the
    concerns of social justice. Indeed, these very concerns must be the
    guiding principles of any system that aims at ensuring that all
    children can freely ’educate’ themselves.
    Therefore, the protesters raised the slogan:–‘No to
    Anti-Constitutional ‘School Choice’ Model of PPP, Voucher Scheme,
    Commercialization, and Profiteering in Education! Yes to Directly (and
    Fully) State-Funded Common School System Based on Neighborhood School
    Guaranteeing Equitable Quality Education to All!’

    Signed by Prof. Anil Sadgopal
    (Member-Presidium, AIFRTE)

    Vikas Gupta
    Assistant Professor–University of Delhi;
    Joint Secretary–Sambhavana Organization;
    National Executive Member–All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE);
    Associate Editor–'Reconstructing Education';

    Permanent Office: Department of History,
    Faculty of Social Sciences,
    University of Delhi ,
    Delhi 110007, India.

    Ph: +91-11-266659 (O.), +91-11-27662347 (R.) & +91-9818193875 (M.)
    Email: vikasedu@...
  • Pankaj Jain
    I am afraid Satish ji that seasoned, not aligned to a view person may not be easily available to preside over an extended engagement through email. The only
    Message 56 of 56 , Dec 16, 2012
      I am afraid Satish ji that "seasoned, not aligned to a view person' may not be easily available to preside over an extended engagement through email. The only practical way has been to get such a person to chair a conference session-group discussion over a limited period. Do you wish to volunteer? 

      Regarding the observation of Mr. Sarwant Ali, I would suggest that even though steering wheel and the wheels of the car are interlinked, and are designed to some extent as unified entity, there is also a time when the engineer should focus on designing wheel and steering mechanism, each by itself . The same should go for the design of complex system like 'education system'. There will be stages in drawing up education policy, where different components will be treated together and when each is focused upon exclusively.



      --- On Sun, 12/16/12, Satish Jha <satish.jha@...> wrote:

      From: Satish Jha <satish.jha@...>
      Subject: Re: [Arkitect India] School Choice as a way of improving Children's education
      To: "arkitectindia@yahoogroups.com" <arkitectindia@yahoogroups.com>
      Date: Sunday, December 16, 2012, 8:19 PM


      I would urge that for a discussion to yield meaningful results a seasoned, not aligned to a view person, should help moderate the discussion. 

      Let us suspend our beliefs and try to address the question of learning in the times we live in to beproductive  in times thy we cannot predict as well as we need to.or like..

      On Sunday, December 16, 2012, Sarwat Ali wrote:

      Dear All,

      Nothing can be seen/ dealt with in isolation, each aspect is significant and interlinked and therefore, all have to be dealt with simultaneously. Prof. Rajagopalan has raised issues which can not be ignored while education for the children is being debated. I endorse his views.



      sarwat ali
      pocket A/3C sukhdev Vihar
      New Delhi - 110025


      Satish Jha
      OLPC India Foundation
      Wellesley, MA 02482
      T: 301 841 7422
      F:301560 4909

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