Earlier this month, the State government announced that the process of recruitment of 5,451 secondary teachers, 18,343 graduate teachers, and 2,895 postgraduate teachers in government schools has been initiated.

The Teachers' Recruitment Board has announced conduct of Tamil Nadu Teacher Eligibility Test (TNTET) on June 3, 2012 for selection of secondary grade and graduate teachers. A pass in Teacher Eligibility Test has been made mandatory by the National Council for Teacher Education, in accordance with the provisions of Right to Education Act, 2010.

As a nodal agency, the Teachers' Recruitment Board will conduct the TNTET for applicants with the qualifications of Diploma in Teacher Education (for classes I to V) and B.Ed, (VI to VIII). Besides the knowledge in their respective subjects, the understanding of the candidates about Child Development and Pedagogy will be tested.

Understandably, most of the applicants do not favour the eligibility test. For, a majority among them constitute those who had registered their qualifications with the employment exchanges several years ago and had been expecting postings in government schools on the basis of seniority. “It is thirteen years since I registered my B.Ed. qualification with the employment exchange after postgraduation. I was awaiting appointment based on seniority when the announcement of TET came as bolt from the blue. Anyway, I will do my best,” said Ramakrishnan, an applicant, who pursues his teaching career in a private school.

While endorsing the view that the best among the applicants must be chosen for the job, teachers of D.Ted and B.Ed. colleges, nevertheless, opine that the eligibility test must, in the first place, determine the aptitude of the applicants towards teaching profession.

Testing of the teachers' knowledge in just the subject would be tantamount to casting aspersions on the adequacy of course content devised by the Directorate of Teacher Education Research and Training and the Tamil Nadu Teacher Education University, according to a professor in a teacher education college.

Nevertheless, thanks to the RTE Act that has made eligibility test essential for appointment, there is going to be a realisation, albeit late, among candidates, particularly those in rural parts, that admission to D.Ted and B.Ed colleges will not be a direct ticket for teaching jobs in government schools, Education Department officials observe. As is only to be expected, the number of applicants for the announced vacancies is several times more. For instance, from Tiruchi district alone, there are over 8,000 eligible candidates for the post of postgraduate teachers. As many as 12,000 applications were issued for the PG teacher vacancies, according to the Chief Educational Officer K.Selvakumar. On an average, there will be 100 contenders for one PG teacher post, he said.

In fact, the TRB has made it clear that even those who pass the TET will be recruited only when the need arises. Candidates securing 60 per cent and above in the tests will be issued a TET eligibility certificate which will be valid for seven years. Teachers in education colleges opine that candidates must be filtered at the very stage of admission to D.T.Ed and B.Ed, programmes. Quality in the teaching-learning process as envisaged by NCTE can be ensured only when candidates pursue the noble profession with passion rather than just considering it a means to survival, they insist, questioning the logic of the existing system that permits churning out D.T.Ed and B.Ed graduates in several thousands every year, drastically in excess of vacancies.