Interactive Session on ‘The Role of Workers’ Organizations in Facilitating Elementary Education and Primary Healthcare’
On July 1, 2006, Amartya Sen, Lamont University Professor, Harvard University and the President, Pratichi (India) Trust, formally inaugurated the Rabindranath Tagore Centre for Human Development Studies under the auspices of the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata.
On the same day Pratichi (India) Trust and the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata organized an interactive session with workers’ organizations in school teaching and public healthcare on ‘The role of workers’ organizations in facilitating elementary education and primary healthcare’. The following organizations sent their representatives:
- All Bengal Teachers Association (ABTA)
- All Bengal Primary Teachers Association (ABPTA)
- Bangiya Prathamik Sikshak Sangha
- Paschimbanga Madrasah Sikshak Samiti
- Prathamik Sikshak Sangha
- West Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association
- Paschimbanga Rajya Sarkari Karmachari Samiti
- West Bengal State Coordination Committee
- DPSCs of Birbhum and Burdwan
- Association of Health Services Doctors
- Association of Bengal Services Doctors
- West Bengal Non-Medical Technical Employees Association
- West Bengal Voluntary Health Association
A report entitled Manab Unnayaner Pothe: Prathamik Shiksha o Janaswasther Rupayane Kormi Sangathangulir Bhumika (in Bengali) has been published on the proceedings of this session.
After the interactive session, Amartya Sen and Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Director, IDSK held a press conference. It was noted that while West Bengal had made significant progress in reducing illiteracy and advancing the health status of the people, there is still a considerable distance to go before universal literacy with advances in secondary and higher education, and a satisfactory health status of the people are attained.
It was noted that workers’ organizations in both the education and health sectors can play a major role in identifying outstanding problems and motivating the members to help to attain the above goals, in association with other institutions or segments of society and polity such as governmental and non-governmental organizations, guardians and local government representatives and village level committees on health and education. The necessity of democratic movements for attaining these goals was also emphasized.
In answer to a question Professor Sen stressed that workers’ organizations will certainly act as political bodies. It is, however, necessary that they should not look after the narrow interest of their own members only but act as responsible constituents of the larger society and polity.