B.Ed. Graduates Ineligible For Post Of Primary School Teachers, Holds Supreme Court; Says 'Right To Education Includes Quality Education'

Padmakshi Sharma

12 Aug 2023 1:51 PM GMT

  • B.Ed. Graduates Ineligible For Post Of Primary School Teachers, Holds Supreme Court; Says Right To Education Includes Quality Education

    The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Rajasthan High Court which had made B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) degree holders ineligible for appointment to the post of primary school teachers. The bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia opined that the fundamental right of primary education in India as guaranteed under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution...

    The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Rajasthan High Court which had made B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) degree holders ineligible for appointment to the post of primary school teachers. The bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia opined that the fundamental right of primary education in India as guaranteed under Article 21A of the Indian Constitution as well as the Right to Education Act, 2009 not just included 'free' and 'compulsory' education for children below 14 years of age but also included 'quality' education to be imparted in such children. As per the Supreme Court, B.Ed. degree holders did not pass the basic pedagogical threshold require for teaching primary classes and thus would not be able to provide 'quality' education to primary school children. 

    Sequence Of Events

    The core of the dispute consists a notification dated 28.06.2018, issued by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). The said notification made B.Ed. degree holders eligible for appointment to the post of primary school teachers (classes I to V). Despite of this, when the Board of Secondary Education, State of Rajasthan, issued an advertisement for Rajasthan Teacher Eligibility Test (RTET), it excluded B.Ed. degree holders from the list of eligible candidates. This action of the Rajasthan Government was challenged before the Rajasthan High Court.

    Another set of petitioners, who were diploma holders in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed.), which is the only teaching qualification required for teachers at primary level, challenged the inclusion of B.Ed. qualified candidates. The State of Rajasthan supported these second batch of candidates.

    Rajasthan High Court quashed the NCTE notification and held that B.Ed. candidates were unqualified for the posts of primary school teachers.

    Before the Supreme Court

    Senior Advocate PS Patwalia and Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora appeared for the B.Ed. qualified candidates. They argued that the High Court failed to consider that the notification was a policy decision taken by the NCTE after the Central Government had issued directions in this regard and the High Court was wrong in interfering with the policy decision of the Central Government.

    Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal and Senior Advocate Dr. Manish Singhvi appeared for the Diploma holders and the State of Rajasthan respectively and argued that the NCTE being an expert body had to take an independent decision in this case, based on the objective realties and not just follow the directions of the Central Government.

    ASG Aishwarya Bhati and ASG Vikramjeet Banerjee, appearing for Union of India argued that the High Court order was passed ignoring the powers of the Central Government given both under the Act as well as NCTE Act. 

    'Quality' Education A Fundamental Right

    In its judgement, the Supreme Court traced the history of the right to free and compulsory education for children in India and called it a part of the 'social vision' of the framers of the Indian Constitution. The court added that ‘free’ and ‘compulsory’ elementary education was of no use unless it was also a ‘meaningful’ education. "In other words, elementary education has to be of good ‘quality’, and not just a ritual or formality!", emphasised the court. 

    Highlighting the object of Article 21A of the Constitution and the Right to Education Act, the court added that the Act had even set down certain norms and standards which have to be followed in elementary schools for purpose of providing a meaningful and ‘quality’ education.

    "A good teacher is the first assurance of ‘quality’ education in a school. Any compromise on the qualification of teachers would necessarily mean a compromise on the ‘quality’ of education," stated the court.

    In this context, the court highlighted that as per Section 23 of the RTE Act the Central Government was empowered to relax the minimum qualifications prescribed by the ‘academic authority’, under certain circumstances and for a limited period. The ‘Academic Authority’ is the NCTE, which brought a notification on 23.08.2010, laying down the necessary qualifications for teachers, both at primary, as well as upper primary level but the said notification did not provide B.Ed. as a qualification for appointment to the post of primary school teachers. Later this notification was amended, but B.Ed. was never included (till the impugned notification dated 28.06.2018), as an essential qualification for teachers of primary school.

    Pedagogical Training Necessary For Teaching Primary School Children

    The court underlined that as per NCET, the qualification which was prescribed for a teacher in primary school was a diploma in elementary education (D.El.Ed.), and not any other educational qualification, including B.Ed. It was stated that a candidate with a D.El.Ed. degree was trained to handle students at primary level, as they had undergone a pedagogical course specifically designed for that purpose.

    However, a person who has a B.Ed. qualification had been trained to impart teaching to secondary and higher secondary level of students and was not expected to impart training to primary level students.

    "Therefore, by implication the inclusion of B.Ed. as a qualification amounts to lowering down of the ‘quality’ of education at Primary level," added the court.

    Noting the inherent pedagogical weakness in B.Ed. courses (for primary classes), the court added that in primary education, any compromise on ‘quality’ of education would mean going against the very mandate of Article 21A and the RTE Act.

    "The value of Primary education can never be overstated," emphasised the court.

    Accordingly, the court struck down the decision of the NCTE to include B.Ed. as a qualification for teachers in a primary school as it was "arbitrary, unreasonable and in fact has no nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the Act i.e. Right to Education Act, which is to give to children not only free and compulsory but also ‘quality’ education."

    Judicial Review Can Be Exercised Against Policy Decisions Contrary To Law

    On the central government's submission that policy decisions could not be interfered with, the Supreme Court held that if the policy decision itself is contrary to the law and is arbitrary and irrational, powers of judicial review must be exercised. The court added–

    "In the present case and in the larger context of the matter, we cannot even see this as a policy decision. But without getting into this argument, even presuming for the sake of argument that the decision taken at the Government level to include B.Ed. as a qualification for teachers at primary level is a policy decision, we must say that this decision is not correct as it is contrary to the purpose of the Act. In fact, it goes against the letter and spirit of the Fundamental Right enshrined in the Constitution under Article 21A."

    Further, the court also found the entire exercise to be procedurally flawed as well. It held that the notification was not an independent decision of NCTE taken after due deliberation, but it simply followed the direction of the Central Government. Thus, the notification was quashed in the decision of the Rajasthan High Court was upheld.

    Case Title: Devesh Sharma v. Union of India | Civil Appeal No. 5068 of 2023

    Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 633;2023 INSC 704


    Click Here To Read/Download Judgement

    Next Story