Twelve student organisations announce protest against semester system in TU
KATHMANDU, Feb. 22: Twelve student organisations including the All Nepal National Independent Students Union (Revolutionary) close to the CPN-Maoist have announced agitation programs against the semester system that the Tribhuvan University is adopting from this academic year. The student organisations have demanded scrapping the semester system altogether. A meeting of the students organisations held at the ANNISU (R)´s office at Bagbazaar announced the protest programmes citing the semester system was being implemented unilaterally without preparations.
Activists protest ‘draconian’ UAPA
Coming out in droves to protest draconian laws that they say have led to unfair incarcerations, members of organisations like the Kabir Kala Manch, Rights and Justice Forum and Popular Front of India participated in a candle-lit protest at Shaniwarwada on Friday evening, particularly to raise a voice against the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 (UAPA), which they claim many of their peers have suffered under.
The protest came under a part of the People’s Movement Against UAPA, a campaign designed in New Delhi that has been joined by activists like John Dayal, Suresh Khairnar, Teesta Setalvad and Mahmood Madani. Following several terror attacks in the country, UAPA has been amended thrice — in 2004, 2008, 2012 — which activists say served to make it even more “draconian”. Participants in Friday’s march had their own stories of horror about when they were charged under the Act. Jyoti Chorge, a Kabir Kala Manch member who was charged in 2011 for allegedly spreading Maoist ideologies in urban areas, told Mirror, “This is a very draconian act — firstly, a person charged under it does not get bail for very long. I faced many problems when my parents were asked to report to police stations at the whim and mercy of cops, and harrassed with unnnecessary questions.” Chorge, who has studied till Class 12 and has a diploma in Electrical Technology, lamented, “I cannot even study further, because all my certificates are with the Anti-Terrorism Squad.”
Another member of the Manch charged under the same Act, 27-year-old Sidharth Bhosale, said, “This Act is similar to the Prevention Of Terrorism Activities Act 2002 (POTA) — it ruins lives. As ‘anti-national elements’, we will always be viewed with suspicion at any work or other place we go to.” Sadiq Qureshi, a member of the Popular Front of India, said, “Baseless charges are levied against Muslims, Aadivasis and Dalits under this Act. The national movement against UAPA has been started to abolish charges against innocent youth.” Balkrishna Sawant, president of the Right and Justice Forum, said, “Several fake cases have been filed against youth from specific communities under this Act, calling them ‘naxalites’ and ‘terrorists’ without evidence.
Controversies over tuition fees and World Bank loans
Three public tertiary institutions in Lagos, the richest state in Nigeria and West Africa, are embroiled in controversies over tuition fees. Lagos State University was temporarily closed following violent student protests over fees and other issues. Students and lecturers are opposed to the current fee regimes, which they claim deny qualified candidates access to higher education. They are convinced that the financial resources of the state are adequate to lessen the tuition burden.
Since Professor John Obafunwa became vice-chancellor of Lagos State University two years ago, tuition fees have reportedly increased from US$150 to US$1,185 for all courses except medicine. For medical students, fees have soared from US$211 to US$2,094. Students at the other two institutions – Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education and Lagos State Polytechnic – have also been agitating, and watching how the dispute will play out at Lagos State. Public and private media have also been covering the controversies. Meanwhile the advocacy group SERAP, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has taken the Lagos state government to court to find out how it has spent a World Bank loan of US$90 million purportedly aimed at improving infrastructure in education institutions.
Lagos State University Recently students at Lagos State University marched to the office of the vice-chancellor, demanding immediate reopening of the university’s online registration portal. The portal had been closed a few days before the start of the second semester examination. The university’s council was meeting at the time, and students pleaded with council members for the portal to be reopened, saying that some of them had just paid – albeit belatedly – remaining fees so that they could sit the exams.
“The bursary unit collected from us the remaining tuition fees. We were then convinced that we could register online and sit for the examination. We were disappointed that the portal was closed,” said one of the students, Josephine Mudashiru. The students claimed that the refusal of vice-chancellor Obafunwa to allow them to register had transformed a peaceful plea into violent protests. Anti-riot police armed with rubber bullets and teargas moved onto the campus to quell the riot, at the request of the vice-chancellor. But during the confrontation between police and students, the administrative block housing the office of the vice-chancellor was partly damaged and some official cars were burned. The campus was temporarily closed.
Shoe factory workers strike against low wages
YANGON — Around 600 workers have gone on strike at the Master Sport Shoe Factory in Hlaing Thar Yar Industrial Zone, in Yangon, because of low wages, forced overtime and rude supervisors. The workers of the Korean-owned shoe factory submitted a list of 10 demands, including a raise in hourly wages, the dismissal of rude supervisors and not to be charged Ks 6,000 (US$ 6) for each day of leave.
“We demanded 10 points including firing [factory supervisor] Ma Lei Lei Win. The employer verbally agreed to 9 points but he did not agree to dismiss Ma Lei Lei Win. He said, even if the factory has to close down, he cannot dismiss her. The fact that he cannot agree on that point, cancelled his agreement for all other points,” said worker Kyu Kyu Thin.