The education sector will only deteriorate if the government proceeds, as currently planned, to grant autonomous status to government and aided colleges in the State, former Minister for Education M.A. Baby has said.

During a seminar organised by the Students Federation of India on moving towards a more autonomous education sector, Mr. Baby pointed out in his inaugural address that the State government’s sole priority was to maximise profit from every sector.

Mere commodity

“Knowledge has been reduced to a mere commodity by both the Union and State governments, which rarely act as though the laws laid out in the Constitution apply to them. The education sector too is being manipulated this way,” said Mr. Baby.

Mask of exploitation

He said the government’s claim to improve the quality of education through these measures masked their tendency to exploit.

Not for student

The initiatives of the government were carried out only to serve business interests from within the country and outside and not to help improve the welfare of the students and faculty, said Mr. Baby.

He spoke of how when the country became independent, the vision was self-sufficiency and to able to stand on our own without foreign intervention.

But the present policies that uphold privatisation implied that the development of the nation was balanced only upon those with money, the former Minister said.

He attacked the State government for doing as it pleased by citing the example of the recently issued circular on setting the age for Muslim marriages.

It went against the law, yet a government official was directed to issue such a circular, he said.

AICTE at fault

The former Minister also found fault with the All India Council for Technical Education, an agency, he said, that was meant to maintain and improve educational standards rather than cow down to vested private interests by adopting policies such as recognising lower cut off marks.

Crucial debate

He acknowledged the initiative of the SFI to conduct the seminar, particularly since this crucial debate was being overlooked till now.

President of the SFI State Committee Shiju Khan reiterated the concerns of the student community that “academic autonomy would lapse into an autocracy dominated by management and officials of private institutions.”

Also present at the seminar was former Vice Chancellor of Sanskrit University J. Prasad.