Correspondence students to press NOTA Button in Delhi Elections


4.5 Lakh Correspondence students of DU SOL to press NOTA button in coming Delhi elections!

SOL students complain that their demands do not figure in party manifestos!

More than 4.5 lakh correspondence students of Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (SOL) have decided to press the NOTA (None of the Above) button in the coming Delhi elections as none of the political parties in the fray have included the demands of the struggling correspondence students. It is to be noted that correspondence students have been struggling for the basic right to equal education and have approached Delhi University’s (DU) authorities, the Delhi Government and MHRD. But discrimination persists with the University denying the correspondence students adequate study centres, classes, library facilities, etc.

The majority of correspondence students languish in DU’s poorly run School of Open Learning because of the sheer paucity of seats in regular colleges. For example, in the academic year 2014-2015 around three lakh students applied for the regular colleges of DU. But with just 54,000 seats being offered, majority of students were denied admission. Indeed, the problem of the dearth of seats is kept under carpet by releasing cut-offs for admission. Clearly, with not a single college being opened in last 17 years, more and more students are being forced into the informal mode of education. Thus, correspondence students never chose SOL willingly as a first choice but were forced to take admission here because of lack of seats in DU’s regular colleges.

Forced into seeking admission in SOL, correspondence students have long been demanding the construction of 80 new colleges – a measure which will accommodate a larger number of students who want to study in the regular mode, in addition to creating more teaching jobs within the University. As an interim measure, correspondence students have been demanding the introduction of evening colleges within the existing 70 colleges of DU where only morning classes are held. With the introduction of more evening colleges, existing corresponding students can shift to regular college education instead of depending on the informalized and poorly conducted education imparted by SOL.

Of course, none of the political parties contesting the Delhi elections have included the aforementioned demands in their manifestos or in their vision document. This is despite the fact that several representations have been made by correspondence students to the Ministry of HRD (Government of India) and successive Delhi governments (including the former AAP government formed last year by Arvind Kejriwal). We would also like to underline the fact that all the political parties are silent on the prevailing system of dual education. Their silence is sinister and reflects endorsement of a hierarchical and unequal education system where those with money are provided the best education in expensive private schools while the poor – who constitute the majority in our society – are relegated to government school education where sheer neglect rules the day.

The dual education system is clearly based on private schooling and government schooling, which renders huge inequality in the education system, and in fact, reproduces inequalities prevailing in our society. We know for a fact that it is the city’s poor who crowd government schools. We also know that government schools are in a rundown condition precisely due to government negligence on the one hand, and on the other, the government’s policy of promoting private schools. Expectedly, due to poor infrastructure and inadequate teaching in government schools, the results of government school students are extremely low compared to those of private school students. Even last year, few government school students received more than 85 percent marks in the senior secondary board examination. The harsh reality is, of course, that the admission cut-off of most of the undergraduate courses in Delhi University closes at 85 percent, leaving lakhs of government school students outside the realm of quality higher education.

It is a vicious circle through which student-youth coming from working-class backgrounds are confined to the same strata. Pushed into poorly-run government schools (like MCD schools and Sarvodaya Vidyalayas), these youth have little chance of entering formal higher education. Our country’s dismally low Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) is proof of this fact. With no access to regular higher education, working-class youth are pressed into lower rungs of the labor market where precarious work contracts and low wages ensure that as adults even they are rarely able to educate their children in the best educational institutions. The dual education system hence reproduces inequality and the precarious position of the Indian working class.

Aware of this fact, activists of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) along with huge support from correspondence students have been campaigning among SOL centres and certain working class localities for the past few weeks asking correspondence students to press the NOTA (None of the Above) button in the 7 February elections. In the coming days students and activists are going to intensify their campaign for equal education.

Shahnawaz Jaman Rohit Singh

For further information contact: 09958116114

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