UP: 'Dreams Shattered', Around 17 Lakh B.Ed Graduates Disappointed by SC Judgment
Lucknow: Ritu, a 30-year-old Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) graduate, travelled from Fatehpur to participate in the sit-in dharna of potential school teachers at the base of the State Council of Educational Research and Training in the state capital. She spent six hours travelling in the hope of amplifying her voice within the corridors of power in Uttar Pradesh, advocating for what she considers a legitimate job demand.
In 2019, Ritu completed her B.Ed and also successfully cleared both the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) and the Uttar Pradesh Teachers’ Eligibility Test (UPTET). However, over the past four years, the Yogi Adityanath-led state government failed to initiate a teacher recruitment drive, despite the presence of numerous vacant teaching positions at the primary level, thus dimming her dream.
The Education Ministry, in response to a question during the monsoon session of the Assembly, acknowledged the existence of over 1.26 lakh teaching vacancies at the primary level in Uttar Pradesh. Nevertheless, the government has affirmed its decision not to undertake any new recruitment drives for teaching positions.
According to the State government, there are 85,152 vacant posts for headmasters and assistant teachers compared to the sanctioned posts of 4,17,886 in council primary schools under the purview of the Basic Education Council. For upper primary schools, out of the sanctioned 1,62,198 posts, 41,338 posts for headmasters and assistant teachers remain vacant.
Ritu found herself among hundreds of fellow candidate teachers who shared a similar predicament at the State Council of Educational Research and Training.
Khushboo is another B.Ed graduate whose father worked in a brick kiln to save up for his daughter's education. At 68 and ailing, he is no longer able to support the family. Khushboo told NewsClick, "I earn from weekend tuition to sustain my family; friends and teachers lent me money to complete my B.Ed course. The Supreme Court's verdict shattered my parents' dream of seeing me become a teacher," with tears in her eyes.
Braving the heat, scores of Bachelor of Education degree holders from across the state gheraoed the State Council of Educational Research and Training in Lucknow under the banner of B.Ed Chhatra Sangharsh Morcha (BCSM) – an umbrella organisation representing concerns of B.Ed students in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The protest aimed to challenge the Supreme Court's verdict that barred B.Ed candidates from appearing for primary school teaching jobs – for classes I to V – across the country.
The Supreme Court Verdict
On August 11, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Rajasthan High Court, which deemed Bachelor of Education graduates ineligible to teach in primary sections, i.e., classes I to V.
The verdict pointed out that B.Ed graduates are not provided the necessary training to teach in classes and, therefore, it was not possible for them to ensure quality of education at the primary level. In 2018, the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) had issued a notification allowing B.Ed graduates to teach classes from I to V. Subsequently, the exclusion of B.Ed graduates from the Rajasthan Teacher Eligibility Test (RTET) was contested in the High Court.
The Rajasthan High Court ruled the NCTE notification as invalid and pronounced B.Ed graduates ineligible to teach in primary classes An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court against this order.
Anand Singh, a B.Ed candidate from Ayodhya, joining the protest, noted that in 2018, the government had enabled B.Ed candidates to become Primary Teachers (PRT) through specific regulations. Consequently, many candidates, including those pursuing B.Tech and B.Com, opted for B.Ed. "I hold a B.Tech degree and a B.Ed degree. However, on August 11, during the Rajasthan case hearing, the Supreme Court revoked this provision," he told NewsClick.
Singh is among lakhs of B.Ed degree holders who relied on the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE)’s gazette notification dated June 28, 2018, which had permitted them to apply for teaching jobs in primary schools.
Protesting candidates said that about 13 to 17 lakh B.Ed degree holders in the state would be impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision. Given the absence of TGT-PGT recruitment for four years, they find themselves with limited alternatives.
Avesh Tiwari, another student from Basti, told NewsClick, "This decision affects more than 13 lakh candidates from UP, not just a few thousand. The government should counter the court's ruling with an ordinance or exempt candidates who chose B.Ed due to the guidelines over the past five years."
They said that they believed in government but both the Central government and NCTE have “fooled them” and they could not convince the Supreme Court judges that B.Ed degree holders possess all the qualities and [have] studied all the syllabus required for teaching in primary schools.
"On the basis of the 2018 NCTE notification, several state governments appointed primary teachers. Even Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) and Navodaya Vidyalaya Sangathan (NVS) followed the same gazette while recruiting teachers. But when our turn is about to come, all rules and regulations have changed," another student claimed.
Rahul Vidyarthi, president of B.Ed Chhatra Sangharsh Morcha (BCSM), said that candidates had completed their B.Ed degrees according to the official gazette issued by the National Council of Teacher Education and the Central Government on June 28, 2018. The gazette confirms B.Ed candidates' full qualification to become primary school teachers in the country.
"The livelihoods of lakhs of people are at stake due to this decision. We are left with nothing. Most applicants qualified for the CTET, but no progress has been made regarding the recruitment drive, and now this new order disqualifies B.Ed graduates from primary school jobs," he lamented.
The union leader, speaking to NewsClick, announced plans for upcoming protests across the state. They intend to submit memoranda to district-level government officials and public representatives, demanding a central government ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court's verdict.
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