Press Release issued by the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE)
ALL INDA FORUM FOR RIGHT TO EDUCATION
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Tel.: (040) 2330-5266
09 November 2009/ New Delhi
The All India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE) organized a two-day national
consultation at the Delhi University campus on 7-8 November 2009 on ‘Building a
Movement for Right to Education’ which was attended by the representatives of several
teachers’ and students’ organizations, Right to Education groups, social movements,
intellectuals and activists from 13 states of India . The national consultation expressed a
deep concern over the rapidly deteriorating condition of the education system from preprimary stage to higher and technical education. The national consultation unanimously noted that,
1. The recently enacted ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education
Act, 2009’ (henceforth referred to as the ‘Right to Education Act, 2009’ or simply
as the ‘RTE Act 2009’) is designed to (a) enable the State to abdicate its
Constitutional obligation towards providing elementary education (class I-VIII) of
equitable quality to all children in the 6-14 year age group; (b) demolish the entire
government school system except the schools of certain elite categories (e.g.
Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, XI plan’s 6,000 model schools, and
similar elite schools of the States/UT governments); and (c) increase the pace of
privatization and commercialization of school education. This Act would provide
neither free education nor education of equitable quality. Rather, it would legitimize
and maintain the multi-layered school system built through World Bank’s District
Primary Education Programme (DPEP) during the 1990s and Sarva Shiksha
Abhiyan (SSA) during the present decade. The central agenda of the Act is clearly
to privatise and commercialise the school system through neo-liberal schemes such
as Public Private Partnership (PPP), school vouchers, adoption of schools by
corporate houses, religious bodies and NGOs.
2. The decision of the government to provide for profiteering through education has
dangerous socio-political implications for the stability, solidarity and sovereignty of
3. Public Private Partnership (PPP), which includes school vouchers, outsourcing and
adoption of schools and colleges, is aimed at shifting of public funds to the
corporate capital through the back door for unbridled profiteering.
4. The Yashpal Committee Report on higher and technical education is a package of
contradictions but, in the ultimate analysis, it rationalizes and supports the neoliberal
agenda of privatisation and commercialisation of higher education
institutions, PPP and differential fee structure; and welcomes second grade (or even
worse) foreign universities and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). What is of even
greater concern is that it fails to propose any credible plan for improvement of the
quality of the existing 18,000 colleges and 400 universities in the country. Its
recommendation of replacing the existing regulatory bodies such as UGC, AICTE,
NCTE, MCI and others by a high empowered single window National Commission
of Higher Education and Research (NCHER) would enable it draw its resources
directly from the Ministry of Finance, thereby making it unaccountable to the
democratically mandated Ministry of HRD. This is certainly a prescription for
unbridled privatization and commercialization of higher education as well as entry
of foreign universities and FDI.
In light of the above, we urge upon the Union Government to,
i) replace the RTE ACT 2009 with a new Act drafted in the framework of the
‘Common School System based on Neighborhood Schools’ in consonance with
the basic spirit and principles enshrined in the Constitution;
ii) review the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act (2002) with a view to providing
a Fundamental Right to free and compulsory education of equitable quality to all
children until the age of eighteen years i.e. until class XII, including early
childhood care and pre-primary education;
iii) create all necessary provisions within the Common School System to
educate the disabled children therein, except in the case of certain extreme forms
of disabilities for whom Special Schools may be required;
iv) incorporate a Constitutional guarantee within the Act for providing
adequate funding for the entire school system, including early childhood care and
pre-primary education. This is precisely the implication of a Fundamental Right;
v) include in the Act a provision to completely ban all forms of privatisation
and commercialisation of education, especially Public Private Partnership (PPP),
adoption of schools by private agencies, outsourcing and voucher schools.
In addition, we demand that,
1. All private schools, aided or unaided, should be taken over by the government and
handed over to the Local Bodies for management, except in the case of those
charitable societies which give an undertaking to fulfill the same Constitutional
obligation as a Government or Local Body school, including, among others,
providing free education of equitable quality as a Neighbourhood School and
appointing teachers under service conditions and salary scales applicable to the
government school teachers.
2. Upgrade the status of all Para Teachers previously appointed in schools under
DPEP and SSA since the 1990s and include them in the cadre of regular teachers,
while, at the same time, ensuring that their educational status through pre-service
and in-service education is taken care of by the government, including its cost.
3. Enact legislation to ban all forms of privatisation and commercialisation at all
stages of education from pre-primary stage to higher and technical education, with
severe penalty clauses against profiteering.
4. All forms of Public Private Partnership (PPP), including school vouchers, adoption
by private parties and outsourcing, must be banned through legislation forthwith.
5. The State must ensure that entirely free education of equitable quality is available
at all stages of education from pre-primary to higher and technical education (“free
education from KG to PG”).
6. No foreign university should be allowed to function in India either directly or
7. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in education has no place at all in a country that
is required under the Constitution to become a “sovereign, socialist, secular,
democratic Republic”, apart from being entirely inconsistent with the principles of
equality and social justice enshrined therein.
8. The “offer” of higher and technical education made by the Govt. of India to the
GATS Council must be withdrawn forthwith, lest they become “commitments”.
9. The entire education system must be reconstructed to build a democratic, socialist,
secular, egalitarian, and enlightened society and to protect the sovereignty of India ,
on the one hand, and the democratic and human rights of the masses, on the other.
The national consultation decided to undertake the following three-point programme:
1. Organise a massive march to the Parliament during the forthcoming budget
session of the Parliament in 2010.
2. Open a sustained dialogue with various section of society including the dalits,
tribals, OBCs, minorities, disabled and the nomadic, displaced and migrant
population, especially the women in each of these sections of society, with a
view to building a common understanding for moving towards a pro-people
and democratic education system in India founded on the principles of equality
and social justice.
3. Undertake Pad Yatras throughout the country in order to carry forward the
Right to Education movement to the district and Block levels.
Members of the Presidium, Secretariat and National Council,
All India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE)
1. Prof. G. Haragopal, University of Hyderabad .
2. Dr. Meher Engineer, President, Indian Academy of Social Sciences.
3. Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University & Former
4. Prof. Rama Kant Agnihotri, Deptt. of Linguistics, Delhi University .
5. Ms. Madhu Prasad, Zakir Husain College , Delhi University .
6. Sh. Kedar Nath Pandey, General Secretary, Bihar Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh.
7. Sh. A. Narasimha Reddy, Vice President, A.P. Save Education Committee.
8. Sh.. Prabhakar Arade, President, All India Federation of Elementary Teachers
9. Sh. Jagdish Pandey, President, U.P. Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh.
10. Dr. V.N. Sharma, President, Jharkhand Vigyan Manch.
11. Sh. Ravi Rai, General Secretary, All India Students Association (AISA).
All India Forum for Right to Education (AIF-RTE)
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