In a significant development, sixteen student organizations, predominantly affiliated with various opposition parties forming the INDIA bloc, are set to launch a series of national-level protests against the National Education Policy (NEP). A joint convention is scheduled for November 21, where these student outfits will announce their collective opposition to the Union government’s push for the withdrawal of the NEP.
The culmination of these agitations is planned with a march to the Parliament on January 12, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The protestors rally behind the slogan “Save Education, Reject NEP; Save India, Reject BJP,” reflecting their unified stance against the educational policy introduced by the government.
United Platform Aims to Mobilize Students across Educational Institutions
C.V.M.P. Ezhilarasan, leader of the DMK’s student wing and MLA in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, emphasized that the united platform aims to mobilize students across educational institutions, particularly on campuses. Additionally, a protest rally is scheduled in Chennai on February 1, 2024, garnering support from students in South Indian states. The Tamil Nadu Assembly had already rejected the National Education Policy, citing concerns about its impact on the state’s progress in the field of education.
Mayukh Biswas, the general secretary of the Left-leaning Students Federation of India (SFI), highlighted the choice of Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary for protests, emphasizing the importance of self-reliance in education. Biswas expressed strong opposition to the National Education Policy, claiming it is detrimental to education, leading to the closure of government schools and difficulties for state and central universities.
NSUI Mobilizing Students against the NEP
The Congress’s National Students Union of India (NSUI) has been actively mobilizing students against the NEP since its draft stage. Nitish Gaur, the national secretary of NSUI, criticized the BJP for privatizing education and alleged that students from marginalized communities face challenges in pursuing education due to the BJP’s policies.
Student organizations from Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) have joined hands with Left-wing organizations such as All India Students’ Federation (AISF) and All India Students’ Association (AISA) in this nationwide protest. The meeting is expected to result in a seven-point demand charter, including the scrapping of the National Education Policy, increased public funds for education, and an end to the alleged “communalization” of textbooks and syllabi by the current regime.
Earlier this month, leaders of these sixteen organizations convened to formulate the protest strategy, expressing their concern about the government’s attempts to undermine the public education system and introduce changes that contradict the constitutional vision of education. The joint statement accused the BJP government of attempting to remove the country’s name, INDIA, from textbooks, adding to the list of grievances against the NEP.