Six Education-related Bills:
Promoting FDI and Private Sector in Higher Education
The corporate sector discovered a huge and ever growing service industry in education. Global public spending on education in the beginning of this century was estimated to exceed one trillion US dollars, that is about fifty five lakh crore rupees. In this industry with huge global market students, teachers, and non-teaching employees constitute resources for profit-making. Here, the students are consumers, teachers are service providers and expert speakers, and the institutions or companies catering to education services are organisers, and the teaching-learning process is no longer for the building of a nation but a business for profit-making.
Predatory and powerful transnational corporations have been targeting public education, particularly higher education, for profit-making. Though predominantly a government supported service, most governments are, as a consequence of neo-liberal economic reforms, withdrawing from it. The government of India through extensive privatisation, commercialisation and deregulation has been encouraging this process.
PM’S INITIATIVE FOR PRIVATISATION
The Prime Minister had asked the Planning Commission in September 2007 to “seriously examine the role of private initiative in supplementing public funding for higher education” and stressed the “role for private initiative in this area.” He further asked it to “seriously look at the proposal for fee increases to reasonable levels in a graduated manner accompanied by a scheme of extensive scholarships and loans which would ensure that no student is denied education because of his or her financial constraints.”
The prime minister himself set the agenda that private investment should be welcome and the fees may be increased. And there could be scholarships and loans for those who could not pay the fees. The adequate number of scholarships are never available but are mentioned in policy documents and speeches to thwart the resistance to fee hike.
With the increase in the difficulty in finding jobs in the current economy, students have been struggling hard to pay back their loans that they had taken. Even if they get the job, the package offered is so low that the payment of loan seems to be difficult. Now they want the government to take steps so that their loans could be ‘forgiven’. (more…)