“Right to education not only includes free and compulsory, but also quality education”; Supreme Court rules B.Ed. Graduates ineligible for primary school teaching

b.ed. graduates ineligible

Supreme Court: In a batch of appeals filed against the judgment passed by the Rajasthan High Court, wherein the Court has quashed the Notification dated 28-06-2018 holding B.Ed. candidates to be unqualified for the posts of primary school teachers (Level-1), the division bench of Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. while upholding the impugned judgment, and setting aside the notification dated 28-06-2018, held that the decision of the NCTE to include B.Ed. as a qualification for teachers in a primary school seems arbitrary, unreasonable and has no nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the Right to Education Act, 2009 (‘RTE Act’) , which is to give to children not only free and compulsory but also ‘quality’ education.


A notification dated 28-06-2018 was issued by the National Council for Teacher Education (‘NCTE’), wherein B.Ed. degree holders were made eligible for appointment to the post of primary school teachers (classes I to V). The Board of Secondary Education, State of Rajasthan, issued an advertisement on 11-01-2021, for Rajasthan Teacher Eligibility Test (RTET Level-1), and excluded B.Ed. degree holders from the list of eligible candidates. The petitioner/appellant has a B.Ed. degree, and as per the Notification dated 28-06-2018, he was eligible, like many other similar candidates. Consequently, he filed a petition before the Rajasthan High Court, praying that the advertisement dated 11-01-2021 to be quashed, as it was in violation of the notification dated 28-06-2018 issued by the NCTE.

Apart from the above batch of petitioners, there was another set of petitioners, with their own grievance. These are the candidates who are diploma holders in Elementary Education, which was the only teaching qualification required for teachers at primary level, and who are aggrieved by the inclusion of B.Ed. qualified candidates. These petitioners filed Writ Petitions before the Rajasthan High Court challenging the legality of the notification dated 28-06-2018.


Whether NCTE was right in including B.Ed. qualification as an equivalent and essential qualification for appointment to the post of primary school teacher (Level-1)?


The Court after examining the RTE Act said that the purpose behind bringing this pathbreaking legislation was not to complete the formality of ‘free and compulsory’ elementary education for children, but to make a qualitative difference in elementary education and to impart it in a meaningful manner. The Act sets down certain norms and standards which have to be followed in elementary schools, and this is with the purpose of providing a meaningful and ‘quality’ education.

The Court said that 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.

After perusing Section 23(1) of the RTE Act, the Court said that it is the provision where the ‘academic authority’ has been empowered to prescribe qualifications for teachers in elementary schools. Further, Section 23(2) empowers the Central Government to relax the minimum ‘qualifications’ prescribed by the ‘academic authority’, under certain circumstances and for a limited period.

The Court noted that the ‘Academic Authority’ under Section 23(1) of the RTE Act is 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. This notification did not provide B.Ed. as a qualification for appointment to the post of primary school teacher. Later this notification was amended, but B.Ed. was never included as an essential qualification for teachers of primary school, till the impugned notification dated 28-06-2018.

The Court noted that a candidate for the post of a teacher in a primary school requires three qualifications.

• He must have passed higher secondary level.

• He must have a Diploma in elementary education

• He should then pass an examination to be conducted by the State known as Teachers Eligibility Test.

The Court emphasised that the pedagogical approach required from a teacher at primary level is in some manner unique. These are the initial formative years where a student has just stepped inside a classroom, and therefore needs to be handled with care and sensitivity. A candidate who has a diploma in elementary education is trained to handle students at this level, as he has undergone a pedagogical course specifically designed for this purpose. A person who has a B.Ed. qualification has been trained to impart teaching to secondary and higher secondary level students. He is not expected to impart training to primary level students. Thus, a B.Ed. course is not designed for teaching at primary level.

The Court said that the inclusion of B.Ed. as a qualification amounts to lowering the ‘quality’ of education at Primary level.

The Court noted that the inherent pedagogical weakness in B.Ed. courses for primary classes is well recognised, thus the impugned notification itself provides that B.Ed. trained teachers will have to undergo a six-month training in elementary classes, within the first two years of their appointment. Further, the Court said that in primary education, any compromise on ‘quality’ of education would mean going against the very mandate of Article 21-A of the Constitution of India and the RTE Act.

The Court further noted that the decision to include B.Ed. as a qualification was apparently triggered by a letter of the Commissioner of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangatha (‘KVS’) , who requested that since in the Primary classes of Central Schools enough trained Diploma holders are not available, they may be permitted to appoint B.Ed. qualified teachers, who are readily available. Thus, the Ministry directed NCTE to appoint B.Ed. trained teachers not just in central schools but in primary schools throughout the country, which would include State run schools.

Thus, the Court held that the decision of the NCTE to include B.Ed. as a qualification for teachers in a primary school seems arbitrary, unreasonable and has no nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the RTE Act, which is to give to children not only free and compulsory but also ‘quality’ education.

The Court opined that NCTE was not justified in including B.Ed. as a qualification for appointment to the post of primary school teacher, a qualification so far kept out of the eligibility requirement. Thus, the Court upheld the Rajasthan High Court Judgment.

Moreover, the Court said that the policy decisions of the Government should normally not be interfered with by a constitutional Court in exercise of its powers of judicial review. However, if the policy decision itself is contrary to the law and is arbitrary and irrational, powers of judicial review must be exercised. By including B.Ed. as a qualification for teachers for primary school, the Central Government has acted against the provisions of the Constitution and the laws. Therefore, the direction of the Central Government dated 30-05-2018 culminating in the notification dated 28-06-2018 of NCTE are violative of the principles as laid down in RTE Act.

However, the Court also opined that the State of Rajasthan was in error in not calling for applications from B.Ed. qualified candidates, for the reasons that till that time when such an advertisement was issued by the Rajasthan Government, B.Ed. candidates were included as eligible candidates as per the statutory notification of NCTE, which was binding on the Rajasthan Government, till it was declared illegal or unconstitutional by the Court.

[Devesh Sharma v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 985, decided on 11-08-2023]

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