The DUTA Dharna against CBCS and Common Central Universities Bill at Jantar Mantar today saw widespread participation of teachers and students from various Delhi-based universities, teachers’ associations, students’ organisations and AIFUCTO. There is growing consciousness within the academic community that the Government’s Reform agenda in Higher Education is insincere, undemocratic and in tandem with the corporate lobbies’ efforts to vandalise the public-funded system. Speaker after speaker raised questions on the intention of the MHRD to trample upon the autonomy of universities and bring about drastic changes in a top-down and centralized manner, ignoring real concerns of access, affordability and equity in Higher Education. Through the Dharna, the participating teachers’ and students’ organisations gave a call for a united nation-wide struggle of teachers and students against CBCS, Common Central Universities Bill and the draconian provisions of the Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). The Dharna also saw the participation of Congress MP and member of the HRD Consultative Committee Sh. Mani Shankar Aiyar.
The list of speakers included Prof. Asok Barman (Secretary, AIFUCTO), Prof. M. S. Bhat and Prof. Badshah Alam (Secretary and President of Jamia Teachers’ Association), Prof. Sachhidanand Sinha (Secretary, FEDCUTA and Presidenta, JNUTA), Prof. Manpreet Kang (President, CCTAD and IP University Teachers’ Association), S. Sivadasan (All-India President, Students’ Federation of India) and Sh. Mani Shankar Aiyar, besides various representatives from students’ organisations such as AIDSO, AISA, AISF, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) and SFI.
Starting with the Semester System and FYUP under the previous Government, there have been continuous efforts to derail the concerns of improving infrastructure and access in Higher Education by proposing models that favour the growth of Foreign and Private investment, dilute the academic and statutory processes of decision-making in universities, and sideline or suppress the voices of teachers and students.
The CBCS is based on a failed semester system, centrally-designed curriculum using the discredited FYUP syllabi that is being imposed on all universities without dialogue and spurious claims of students’ mobility/choice. The Common Central Universities Bill seeks to bring all central universities under an Act that aggressively imposes the PPP model, ignores the local and historical specificities of every university and empties all statutory bodies of democratic representation of students and teachers. The overarching policy-design that links the funding of universities with accreditation parameters that completely ignore the social goals of the public-funded system and the concerns of the backward sections, while harping on an idea of quality that is driven by commercial prerogatives. It seeks to destroy quality and equity in the public-funded system in order to promote private profit-making initiatives.
The DUTA has also planned an All-India Convention of Teachers on the CBCS and Common Central Universities Bill on 25 May. This Convention will be held at the India International Centre. Eminent educationists, representatives from civil society and political parties, as well as teachers’ and students’ organisations will participate in this convention to build up a road-map for the nation-wide struggle against this multi-pronged attack on the public-funded system and the educational rights of different sections of the society.