The fifth of September of every year since 1962 is celebrated as 'Teacher's day' in India. It is in remembrance of the Second President of India Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, whose birth anniversary falls on that day.
Many other countries observe World Teachers' Day, as established by UNESCO in 1994, on 5 October.
This article intends to quote some observations made by the Supreme Court in some of its judgments about the Noble profession of teaching.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court, while correcting its earlier 'erroneous' judgment, held that the teachers are entitled to invoke Payment of Gratuity Act for claiming gratuity from his/her employer.
SC On Teaching and Teachers
In Sushmita Basu & Ors vs Ballygunge Siksha Samity, the Supreme Court observed:
" We must remember that the profession of teaching is a noble profession. It is not an employment in the sense of it being merely an earner of bread and butter. A teacher fulfils a great role in the life of the nation. He is the 'guru'. It is the teacher, who moulds its future citizens by imparting to his students not only knowledge, but also a sense of duty, righteousness and dedication to the welfare of the nation, in addition to other qualities of head and heart. If teachers clamour for more salaries and perquisites, the normal consequence in the case of private educational institutions, if the demand is conceded, would be to pass on the burden to the students by increasing the fees payable by the students. Teachers must ask themselves whether they should be the cause for putting education beyond the ken of children of parents of average families with average incomes. A teacher's profession calls for a little sacrifice in the interests of the nation. The main asset of a teacher is his students former and present. Teachers who have lived up to ideals are held in great esteem by their disciples. The position of the Guru, the teacher, in our ethos is equal to that of God (Matha Pitha Guru Daivam). The teachers of today must ensure that this great Indian concept and the reverential position they hold, is not sacrificed at the altar of avarice."
In Avinash Nagra vs Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, the Supreme Court observed that the Indian society has elevated the teacher as `Guru Brahma, Gurur Vishnu Guru Devo Maheswaraha'. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Radhakrishnan and Swami Vivekananda, the bench said:
"As Brahma, the teacher creates knowledge, learning, wisdom and also creates out of his students, men and women, equipped with ability and knowledge, discipline and intellectualism to enable them to face the challenges of their lives. As Vishnu, the teachers is preserver of learning. As Maheswara, he destroys ignorance. Obviously, therefore, the teacher was placed on the pedestal below the parents. The State has taken care of service conditions of the teacher and he owed dual fundamental duties to himself and to the society. As a member of the noble teaching profession and a citizen of India he should always be willing, self-disciplined, dedicated with integrity to remain ever a learner of knowledge, intelligently to articulate and communicate and imbibe in his students, as social duty, to impart education, to bring them up with discipline, inculcate to abjure violence and to develop scientific temper with a spirit of enquiry and reform constantly to rise to higher levels in any walk of life nurturing Constitutional ideals enshrined in Article 51A so as to make the students responsible citizens of the country. Thus the teacher either individually or collectively as a community of teachers, should regenerate this dedication with a bent of spiritualism in broader perspective of the Constitutionalism with secular ideologies enshrined in the Constitution as an arm of the State to establish egalitarian social order under the rule of law. Therefore, when the society has given such a pedestal, the conduct, character, ability and disposition of a teacher should be to transform the student into a disciplined citizen, inquisitive to learn, intellectual to pursue in any walk of life with dedication, discipline and devotion with an inquiring mind but not with blind customary beliefs. The education that is imparted by the teacher determines the level of the student for the development, prosperity and welfare of the society. The quality, competence and character of the teacher are, therefore, most significant for the efficiency of the education system as pillar of built democratic institutions and to sustain them in their later years of life as a responsible citizen in different responsibilities. Without a dedicated and disciplined teacher, even the best of education system is bound to fail. It is, therefore, the duty of the teacher to take such care of the pupils as a careful parent would take of its children and the ordinary principle of vicarious liability would apply where negligence is that of a teacher. The age of the pupil and the nature of the activity in which he takes part, are material factors determining the degree and supervision demanded by a teacher.
In another context, the Supreme Court in Andhra Kesari Educational Society vs Director Of School Education , observed:
Though teaching is the last choice in the job market, the role of teachers is central to all processes of formal education. The teacher alone could bring out the skills and intellectual capabilities of students. He is the 'engine' of the educational system. He is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values. He needs to be endowed and energised with needed potential to deliver enlightened service expected of him. His quality should be such as would inspire and motivate into action the benefitter. He must keep himself abreast of ever changing conditions. He is not to perform in a wooden and unimaginative way. He must eliminate fissiparous tendencies and attitudes and infuse nobler and national ideas in younger minds. His involvement in national integration is more important, indeed indispensable. It is, therefore, needless to state that teachers should be subjected to rigorous training with rigid scrutiny of efficiency. It has greater relevance to the needs of the day. The ill trained or substandard teachers would be detrimental to our educational system; if not a punishment on our children. The Government and the University must, therefore, take care to see that inadequacy in the training of teachers is not compounded by any extraneous consideration.
Expressing its concern about tug of war between the Management of an Educational Institution and the statutory authorities, the supreme court in State of West Bengal vs Nuruddin Mallik, said:
Education is the foundation of the prosperity of any country, it shapes its future by inculcating discipline, culture and the spirit into the youth. If the very foundation of education is involved in long drawn out litigation, the very hope and aspiration of the youth for the future is lost. Every contribution by any person entrusted with such noble service may be teacher, management or staff, whether Govt. functionaries or statutory authorities has to render service with dedication and with the sole objective to render service to the nation and in doing so eliminate, if any, strafing conflicts to reach the objective in accordance with law. Any action by all such has to be shunned and an atmosphere to be created which is conducive to the healthy atmosphere. for the students.
In Manager, Nirmala Senior, Secondary School, Port Blair vs. NI Khan, the Court noted that the qualifications and the character of the teachers are really important
Educational institutions are temples of learning. The virtues of human intelligence are mastered and harmonised by education. Where there is complete harmony between the teacher and the taught, where the teacher imparts and the student receives, where there is complete dedication of the teacher and the taught in learning, where there is discipline between the teacher and the taught, where both are worshipers of learning, no discord or challenge will arise. An educational institution runs smoothly when the teacher and the taught are engaged in the common ideal of pursuit of knowledge. It is, therefore, manifest that the appointment of teachers is an important part in educational institutions. The qualifications and the character of the teachers are really important.
In State of Maharashtra v. Vikas Sahebrao Roundale, the Supreme Court said:
"The teacher plays pivotal role in moulding the career, character and moral fibres and aptitude for educational excellence in impressive young children. Formal education needs proper equipping of the teachers to meet the challenges of the day to impart lessons with latest techniques to the students on secular, scientific and rational outlook. A well-equipped teacher could bring the needed skills and intellectual capabilities to the students in their pursuits. The teacher is adorned as Gurudevobhava, next after parents, as he is a principal instrument to awakening the child to the cultural ethos, intellectual excellence and discipline. The teachers, therefore, must keep abreast of ever- changing techniques, the needs of the society and to cope up with the psychological approach to the aptitudes of the children to perform that pivotal role. In short teachers need to be endowed and energised with needed potential to serve the needs of the society. The qualitative training in the training colleges or schools would inspire and motivate them into action to the benefit of the students. For equipping such trainee students in a school or a college, all facilities and equipments are absolutely necessary and institutions bereft thereof have no place to exist nor entitled to recognition. In that behalf compliance of the statutory requirements is insisted upon. Slackening the standard and judicial fiat to control the mode of education and examining system are detrimental to the efficient management of the education."
In St. Johns' Teachers Training Institute (for Women), Madurai v. State of Tamil Nadu, it was observed:
"The teacher-education programme has to be redesigned to bring in a system of education which can prepare the student-teacher to shoulder the responsibility of imparting education with a living dynamism. Education being closely interrelated to life the well trained teacher can instil an aesthetic excellence in the life of his pupil. The traditional, stereotyped, lifeless and dull pattern of "chalk, talk and teach" method has to be replaced by a more vibrant system with improved methods of teaching, to achieve qualitative excellence in teacher- education."