Silchar, Assam:- On the occasion of the 204th birthday of the revered scholar and reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a protest organized by the Assam State Committee of the All India Democratic Students’ Organization (AIDSO) took place in Silchar. The demonstration, held in front of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Statue, focused on condemning the cancellation of the National Education Policy, 2020, and expressed concerns about the impact on education, culture, and humanity due to the closure of government educational institutions.
At precisely 11:30 am, a multitude of workers and supporters from the AIDSO gathered to voice their demands. They staunchly advocated for preserving the secular, democratic, and science-based nature of education, firmly opposing the commercialization and personalization of educational institutions. The protestors also voiced their refusal to accept the communalization, gentrification, and centralization of education under the guise of ‘merger and closure’ policies.
Key demands put forward during the protest included a halt to the closure of government educational institutions, the reintroduction of the pass-fail system up to class VIII, the retention of the vital matriculation examination in student life, and the cessation of efforts to shift primary education to anganwadi centers lacking adequate infrastructure. The protestors also called for the cancellation of plans to introduce four-year degree courses.
Addressing the gathering, Gaur Chandra Das, the district secretary of the AIDSO, along with district committee treasurer Pallab Bhattacharya and other leaders, emphasized the importance of commemorating Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s legacy. They explained that from September 20, leading up to the day of Kankalta’s self-sacrifice, a week-long protest was organized across the state to demand the repeal of the National Education Policy, 2020, and to safeguard the government education system from potential destruction.
The protestors voiced concerns about the actions of the BJP-led state government in Assam, accusing it of pursuing policies that would lead to the closure of government educational institutions. Already, the state had closed nine thousand schools, with plans to shutter an additional eleven thousand. These closures were justified on the grounds of a declining number of female students, yet the protest leaders pointed out that no concrete steps had been taken to address the root causes of this decline.
The National Education Policy, 2020, was strongly criticized by the AIDSO leaders, who argued that it facilitated corporate profit-making by commercializing education. They highlighted that government educational institutions were being targeted for closure and merger under the umbrella of this policy, endangering the education system as a whole.
In a fervent call to action, the protestors urged students to unite and form a strong movement to protect the education system from further deterioration.
On this significant day, the AIDSO also paid homage to Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar by placing his photos at various locations, including Ashram Road, Dudhpatil, Kanakpur, Duarbond, Srikona, Swamiji Road, and Rangpur. The event saw the presence of several members of the district committee, including the district president of the organization, Swagatha Bhattacharya.
As Assam and the nation reflect on the legacy of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the protest serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle to protect and improve the education system in the face of policy changes that could have far-reaching consequences for students and society.