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#FeesMustFall: Jawaharlal Nehru University disabled students join protest against #FeeHike

#NEWDELHI: In a letter addressed to Jawaharlal Nehru University vice chancellor students with disabilities also joined the call for an end to fee hikes.

Read the letter below

Subject: Request letter for withdrawing the proposed fee hike introduced in the Draft Hostel Manual for students with disabilities.

Respected Sir,

The JNU visually challenged forum is constantly engaged with your esteemed administration for making JNU as the paragon of accessibility, inclusivity and sensitivity towards the needs of the disabled students in the campus.

However, through this application letter, we would like to draw your kind attention towards the issue of IHA Draft Hostel Manual and the mammoth fee hike from INR 2700 to INR 30,100 – annually (excluding monthly mess bill and newly introduced electricity and water charges), which was passed in the IHA Meeting on 28th October 2019.

In the 283rd Executive Council Meeting of the university held on 13th November 2019, The Executive Council decided that all the students belonging to below poverty line (BPL) category (excluding those who have JRF, SRF and other equivalent fellowships/Scholarships either from outside organizations or JNU) are eligible to be given 50 % of concession in the hostel charges. However, an explicit statement of exemption of increased hostel charges and 5 Per cent reservation in the hostel accommodation for the students with disabilities is missing from the proposed draft hostel manual.

May we remind you Sir, In case of more impoverished communities such as Persons with Disabilities (PwD), higher education become all the more important on account of the negative and discriminatory attitudes of society and other complexities such as lack of accessible transport, availability of conducive infrastructure and services to overcome various socio-economic-political constraints faced by them. As a result, the education and employment rates for persons with disabilities are far lower than the non-disabled persons, and are subject to exclusion and discrimination in accessing higher education. Section 32 of the RPD Act 2016 therefore creates a mandatory obligation for all government higher educational institutions to reserve at least 5% of seats for “persons with benchmark disabilities”, and Section 16 of the Act requires all educational institutions recognized and funded by government to provide inclusive and affordable education to disabled students.

Unfortunately, due to non-compliance of two of these provisions in the recently concluded executive council meeting, academic lives of disabled students in the campus is going to be severely affected in the future. Our incapacity to provide affordable and conducive hostel accommodation for the country’s most marginalized section of the student community will further increase the financial burden on disabled students and their families. Quite contrary to this, JNU has always maintained a fee structure that ensures inclusion of students from even the most marginalized backgrounds, due to which the University has developed a diverse character and has always stood firmly for the ideas of inclusiveness and social justice.

In this regard, we, the disabled students of this campus kindly request you to withdraw massive hostel fee hike for persons with disabilities, and ensure 5 per cent PWD reservation in the hostel accommodation in the proposed draft hostel manual, which should be revised only after appropriate consultation from the student community.

We earnestly request for your urgent and time-bound intervention in this matter, and further request you to extend your kind support for the cause of affordable and inclusive education for students with disabilities. Hoping to get a prompt and positive response from you at the earliest.

Thanks in Anticipation,
JNU Visually Challenge Students Forum Executive Committee 2019-20

Requests for comment from Jawaharlal Nehru University have been made and will be updated as soon as a response has been received.

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