Reinforcing centrality of ‘labour’ in educational sites and possibilities of struggle

Ravi Kumar

(Associate Professor, South Asian University, New Delhi)


The recent developments in University of Delhi were not as simple as they appeared to be – teachers and students struggling against FYUP and finally getting success!. There has been a much deep rooted process of educational politics underway and I am concerned about a subversive class politics that can become the focal point of struggles within education. Looking at the concept of commodity, commodification of education and role teachers may play as workers within educational establishments this paper argues to bring back the centrality of labour vis-à-vis capital as the only possibility in dealing with the questions of education today. It suggests that not only universities but across educational sites, if teacher-worker becomes an agent of political transformation it would contribute more fruitfully to the issues of social justice and equality than merely doing cosmetic experiments which become non-generalisable or which get stuck in issues of governance.

There is a need to reimagine the issues of curriculum and pedagogy from the perspective of labour, prepare subversive education that is about dreaming, as Ernst Bloch would have argued; that is about generating a sense of hope among students that there is a world beyond the given; that breaks the hierarchies of teacher and students to establish the notions of equality within educational institutions; that defines justice not merely as questions of recognition but as a project that is inherently connected to agenda of social transformation demolishing the systems that create disparities, structural violence and injustices. This can be done if we recognize that education is a political battleground and a political and partisan position needs to be taken. This partisan position is the perspective of how labour would imagine education today.