Shiksha Bachao Abhiyaan: Mass Demonstration at Ramlila Maidan

Education provisioning in India continues to be predominantly State-driven, with the government being the largest financier, provider and regulator of education in the country, even as the poorest of its people continue to shift preferences towards private institutions of learning. According to Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, private enrollment and schools, both have risen by 16 million and 71,360 respectively for the period 2010-11 to 2014-15. Yet, with the enactment of the RTE Act 2009, excessive emphasis on input-centric norms have stifled private initiative, and threatened the autonomy of these institutions and the individuals that operate them.

To this end, theNational Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) launched the Save Education Campaign on 15 March 2018, along with 130 representatives from different types of private schools from across India. Inaugurated by Gurcharan Das, Author and Trustee, CCS, the mandate of the Campaign was to garner support for the formal memorandum that was submitted to the Hon’ble PMO and Education Minister, demanding policy reforms under twelve heads, including autonomy of schools, ease of opening schools, outcome based regulation, Organised under the banners of National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), National Coalition for School Education (NCSE) and Parents Forum of India (PFI), the campaign also saw 27 press conferences in 26 cities across 12 states, along with 22 street plays performed across Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana.

An integral part of the campaign was digital advocacy through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Via Facebook, the campaign was able to achieve 58k impressions and a reach of 45k, with page likes increasing by 20,000 +. Additionally, a tweetchat was organised on 1 April 2018 on Twitter, and the hashtag #SaveEducation trended #1 in India with 25,000+ impressions.

The Campaign culminated with a mass gathering at Ramlila Maidan on 7 April 2018, attended by 65,000+ representatives of 48 associations from 24 states. These included representatives from budget private schools, aided and unaided private schools, catholic minority schools, ICSE schools, among many others. The demonstration was addressed by a panel of 45 speakers including Prof. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, University College London; Kulbhushan Sharma, President, NISA; Dr Amit Chandra, National Coordinator, NISA. The day received wide ranging coverage from established print and media houses such as The Tribune, Dainik Jagran, and Indian Express and Mumbai Mirror.