"State funding of education should be stepped up"
CHENNAI: The 26th national conference of the All India Students Federation (AISF) began here on Tuesday with a call to step up state funding of education and end its commercialisation.
Addressing a students' rally organised by the AISF, Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan said though the Kothari Commission had recommended allocation of six per cent of the gross domestic product for education, successive Central Governments had earmarked less than three per cent. Access to primary education, not to speak of higher education, had become difficult for the poorer sections including farmers, agricultural workers, dalits and urban toiling masses. Education had been converted into a commodity. This had resulted in increase in the number of school dropouts and growth of illiteracy, he said.
He said earlier, eminent personalities with social commitment started educational institutions. But now schools and colleges were being started by politically influential persons, investing with a profit motive. He also highlighted the significance of the Bill recently passed by Parliament to provide reservation in self-financing colleges.
Mr. Bardhan said students should keep themselves posted about the country's political developments, with particular reference to the role of the Left in defending the rights of the working people, unemployed and the deprived sections. Only against this backdrop were the Left parties opposing disinvestment in successful public sector units, besides flaying foreign direct investment in various sectors.
'Defeat Parivar designs'
CPI national secretary D. Raja called upon students to dedicate themselves to the cause of defeating the "designs of the Sangh Parivar to divide people on communal lines in the name of Hindutva." Education should be treated as a fundamental right. He urged them to fight for secular, democratic and scientific education.
State CPI secretary D.Pandian said the State Government and the Centre should monitor the functioning of self-financing colleges and private educational institutions to ensure that rights of the students were protected. He flayed the order banning recruitment for Government jobs in the State.
AISF president Rama Krishna Panda said the delegates' session of the meet would commence on Wednesday and go on till Friday. Apart from chalking out the future course of action, the AISF functionaries would interact with leaders of other student unions on issues confronting students and teachers, more particularly the Centre's decision to allow foreign direct investment in education.
Eminent educationists will address the meet. It will call for adequate attention to promoting education among women and tribal people, he said, adding that more stress should be laid on job-oriented education.
Earlier, AISF activists from different States including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu took out a procession from Munroe statue to Triplicane. They marched in their national costumes, raising slogans in different languages. They carried the AISF flags and portraits of Che Guevara and freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, P. Jeevanantham and K. Baladhandayutham. Among others, Mr. Panda, AISF general secretary Vijayendra Kesri and State secretary R.Thirumalai led the procession.