‘If Teachers in Bihar can’t Face Competency Test, they should Resign’: SC

Bihar Teachers

The Supreme Court of India has recently emphasized the critical role of teachers in nation-building and their responsibility to either upgrade their skills or contemplate resignation.

The Court made the remarked while refused to entertain a petition by local body teachers in Bihar who were against a mandatory competency test imposed by the state to improve educational standards in rural schools.

A vacation bench comprising justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan emphasized, “Our concern lies with the education of children in Bihar. Any teacher unwilling to comply with this requirement should consider resignation. However, those committed to serving students should willingly take the competency examination.”

Teacher’s Plea

The bench was hearing a petition filed by two group of teachers- Parivartankari Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh and Bihar Rajya Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh, employed in Panchayat-operated schools within the state. These teachers challenged the Bihar School Exclusive Teachers Rules, 2023, which mandate them to undergo a competency examination.

The state clarified that the test is optional, with non-participation not resulting in termination, while successful candidates would achieve parity with state government teachers.

Previous Hearing in Patna HC

The petitioners had previously challenged the 2023 rule in the Patna High Court and subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court against the April 2, 2024, verdict.

Dismissing the teachers’ petitions, the bench remarked, “Teachers are nation-builders. In Bihar, if the government is striving for teacher improvement and you oppose it, then reconsider your stance.”

The teachers, represented by their legal counsel, informed the court that they had previously demonstrated competence by undergoing a competency examination under the Bihar Panchayat Teachers Rules, 2012, following their appointment under the Bihar Panchayat Primary Teacher (Appointment and Service Conditions) Rules, 2006. Some were initially appointed as Shiksha Mitras before being absorbed as Niyojit teachers under the Primary Teachers Rules, 2006.

The Patna High Court upheld the 2023 rule, viewing it as an opportunity for Niyojit teachers to attain parity with state government teachers. The High Court observed that the competency test aims to motivate teachers to continue their professional development and reach the standards set for newly recruited teachers under the State School Teachers Rules, 2023.

During proceedings before the High Court, the state government argued that the policy change was essential to improve teaching quality and enhance educational standards across Bihar, while also safeguarding teachers’ livelihoods.

The Supreme Court concurred with the High Court’s findings, stating, “The objective of these rules is to upgrade teacher skills. We recognize that these teachers receive substantial salaries but often remain stagnant. Therefore, any state rule aimed at improving teacher skills is beneficial.”

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