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Print edition : December 28, 2012

'The changes introduced in D.U. in the name of reforms need to be seen in a broader political context. The government is pushing the education sector in such a way that it will eventually become a part and parcel of Indias economic muscle, and devoid of any social responsibility. Education is being envisaged as a business. We have to expose this in our agitation. The stakes of the politico-business class in the education sector need to be exposed. We know of politicians in Maharashtra and Karnataka who are sugar barons or mining barons but also run educational institutions in their respective Sates. Money from other industries is being channelled into the education sector, the biggest stakeholders of which are in the political class. Programmes such as distance education, self-financing community colleges and those that adopt the PPP [public-private partnership] model will benefit only this class, and not necessarily students and academics.

Delhi University is talking about community colleges; there are around 113 projects under the innovation schemes, credit transfer system and uniform syllabi. Should we not deconstruct the motives behind these? The government talks about increasing the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in schools and the number of higher educational institutions. Privatising education is the only way forward as the government does not have enough resources for the purpose. But what it does not talk about are the increasing dropout rates in schools and colleges. We have to talk about both these before making our policies.

Delhi University says it is following the American model by introducing community colleges. The concept of community colleges was introduced in the 1970s in the poorest neighbourhoods of the U.S. to make education accessible to all. However, the step was meant to divert government funds from public universities to community colleges. In India, the present model of urban-centric, technology-oriented community colleges will reduce the space for poor students even further. Evolving uniform syllabi or a credit transfer system will take away the academic freedom of institutions; it will help create syllabi that will build a captive market for those from whom the government is drawing support, which is big capital.

Sachin Narayanan Faculty, Department of English, Dyal Singh College, Delhi University.

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