Published: 04th July 2022
NEP an attack on public education: UoH students tell Dharmendra Pradhan
The students of UoH staged a peaceful protest during the Education Minister's visit to the campus and submitted a memorandum of concerns
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan paid a visit to the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on Monday, July 4, to attend the inauguration of three new buildings on the campus, including the Centre for Digital Learning and Training Resources.
The UoH wing of the Students' Federation of India (SFI) took this opportunity to raise a few concerns with the Education Minister through a peaceful protest. "The students who were peacefully protesting were initially obstructed by the heavy deployment of police. The Union Minister later met the protesting students and SFI representatives raised our concerns with the Minister. He responded that he will consider the concerns raised," said Shiva Durga Rao, Secretary and President of SFI-UoH.
When they got through to the Minister, at last, the students submitted a memorandum detailing their concerns. A major one among these was the National Education Policy, which they said was an attack on public education in the country. In the memorandum submitted, nine points explained the issues they had with the education policy. Among these was the claim that the NEP was silent on reservation for students from marginalised backgrounds. "The NEP uses ‘merit’ repeatedly and constantly in the entire document, and proposes to track the ‘progress’ of those who avail ‘financial assistance’," said the document. It also decried the proposal for the National Research Foundation, which they claim will regulate PhD candidates and their subjects of research "with an iron fist". The document also claimed that the NEP intends to promote "contractualisation of the staff" by introducing a tenure track system.
Moving on the to Common Universities Entrance Test (CUET), which will begin soon, SFI-UoH claimed that it had put students from state boards at a huge disadvantage. They also brought up the fact that it is promoting coaching centres, putting those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds at the risk of losing out on higher education. They also discussed the need for a fully-funded extension for PhD scholars who were unable to carry out research in the last two years due to the pandemic. They opposed the suggestion to rebrand the non-NET fellowship as the NET II fellowship which they say will promote discrimination. Instead, they demanded that all students are provided with fellowships for research.
The students also mentioned the recent controversy over the change in syllabi in states such as Karnataka. "From revising school textbooks to dropping important topics from the syllabus, the Central Government has been promoting the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda through such changes. We demand that the curriculum for higher education be modified only according to the secular, rational and scientific temperament of education and without resorting to deletion or overwriting of facts and historical reality of the country," said the students' letter.
During his visit, the Minister inaugurated three buildings on campus, including the School of Physics and the School of Engineering Science and Technology. The students, in their letter, raised the issue of land encroachment on the UoH campus. They claimed that "corporate interests" were aiming to occupy university land and requested the government to transfer the mutation of the land to the varsity in order to safeguard it.