The Supreme Court in its recent verdict has highlighted that only diploma holders in elementary education possess the necessary pedagogical skills to effectively engage with young students. The court’s decision overturns the 2018 notification issued by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), which had specified a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree as a qualification for primary teachers. The verdict, delivered by a bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia, underscores the vital role of quality education and the importance of appointing educators proficient in guiding children through their initial formative years.
The court acknowledged the distinct teaching methods required for primary-level education (Classes I to IV) versus higher grades. It highlighted that primary-level pedagogy demands a unique approach, given that these early years represent a critical phase when students first enter the classroom. This period necessitates an approach characterized by care and sensitivity. The court criticized the National Council for Teacher Education’s prioritization of BEd-trained candidates, suggesting that this approach undermines the goal of delivering high-quality education. The court stated, “It (our priority) is not to impart ‘quality’ education, but to provide more job avenues to BEd-trained candidates, as this seems to be the only reason for their inclusion, even in the presence of overwhelming evidence that BEd course is not a suitable course for primary classes.”
Elaborating on the importance of meaningful elementary education, the bench highlighted that while elementary education is now a fundamental right under Article 21A of the Constitution (applicable up to 14 years of age), its effectiveness hinges on its quality. The court emphasized that a diploma in elementary education (D.El.Ed.) equips educators to handle young students by virtue of their pedagogical training. In contrast, those with a BEd qualification are better suited for teaching secondary and higher secondary students.
The Supreme Court criticized the National Council for Teacher Education for not independently evaluating the suitability of BEd as a qualifying degree for primary teachers. It noted that the decision had been based solely on the recommendation of the Centre. Prior to 2018, only holders of diplomas in primary education were eligible to apply for teaching positions at that level. This ruling marks a crucial milestone in preserving the integrity and quality of education at the foundational level, ensuring that educators possess the appropriate skills to guide young learners through their early academic journey.