As polls near, student body bats for social justice in schools, colleges

MahaScholar Correspondent

Mumbai: With backward categories and minorities, especially Muslims, in the state still lagging behind in education, Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) has demanded that the new government in Maharashtra bring special regulation to ensure adequate representation of SCs, STs and minorities in the educational institutes.

The demand is part of SIO’s ‘Students’ Manifesto’, recently released in the wake of the upcoming state assembly elections. The document focuses on bringing parity and social justice in schools, colleges and universities, while also seeking to enhance the quality of education. The student body wants the political parties and assembly candidates to not only include these demands in their poll promises, but also deliver on them if they win.

“The education sector is often neglected in the cacophony of campaigning, even though it’s one of the most critical aspect of the society. This negligence continues when a government assumes power. Hence, we want to raise awareness among electorates as well as the candidates about the many issues plaguing the education sector,” said Salman Ahmed, zonal president, SIO South Maharashtra.

The ‘Manifesto’ proposes a number of measures including the special regulation, establishment of equal opportunity cells (EOCs) in educational institutes, increasing the scholarships and addressing the issues facing in their disbursal to ensure adequate representation of scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST), other backward castes (OBC) and minorities in the education sector. SIO wants the government to pay special attention to minority concentrated districts (MCDs), which are educationally backward and establish off-campus centers of minority universities, such as Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), in MCDs.

“The state government has been dragging its feet for years when it comes to establishing the proposed AMU sub-centre in Aurangabad. It’s high time the government realises that its indifference has slowed down progress of the minority community,” said Salman Ahmed.

SIO has also suggested a number of steps to improve the quality of education in the state. It has demanded that the government do away with the practice of ad-hoc appointment of teachers and ensure that no permanent position remains vacant for more than a year. It also the syllabi to be prepared and made available in the regional languages so that education of students is ensured in their respective mother tongues.  

However, the highlight of the manifesto is a demand of establish a central university in the state. “Maharashtra is one of the largest states in the country, contributing a major share of the gross domestic product (GDP) and plays a significant role in the development of our country. But unfortunately when it comes to education it is been neglected. Even after more than 70 years of Independence there is no central university in Maharashtra, except for Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha,” said Uzair Rangrez, zonal secretary, SIO South Maharashtra.

The document also takes the government to task for failing to deliver on its promise to bring back student council elections in the state, regulating coaching classes and setting up Students Grievance Redressal Cells (SGRCs) in higher education institutes. “The new government should immediately act on these long-pending issues, lest wants to lose credibility in the eyes of students and youths,” said Rangrez.

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