The Union government has asked the West Bengal government to conform to the regulations of the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act while recruiting primary teachers.
Though school education is the domain of the State governments, the Centre has intervened in view of the trouble being faced by the West Bengal government after the Calcutta High Court declared the courses run by the Primary Teacher Training Institutes as illegal, for lack of the NCTE’s recognition.
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters that the State government invited applications from Class X pass-outs for recruitment as primary teachers at a time when the Centre and the State were working to soften the impact of the High Court judgment.
In view of the advertisement for recruiting 58,000 primary teachers, the Minister wrote to the State government urging it to review its recruitment process and ensure that only persons with minimum qualifications prescribed by the NCTE were recruited to avoid any complication.
“We want and expect the State governments to cooperate with us by amending the laws and bringing them in conformity with the Central legislation,” Mr. Sibal said. The recruitment drive in West Bengal might be challenged in court, given that it continued with the old regime declared illegal by the High Court, he said.
The PTTIs were offering Class X pass-outs one-year Diploma in Education (D.Ed), whereas the NCTE regulation mandated a two-year D.Ed programme for primary teachers. And only students who had cleared Class XII with 50 per cent were eligible for the course. Hence these PTTIs were not recognised by the NCTE, he said.
As a result of the judgment, 31,141 persons were affected. While some were awarded diploma by the non-recognised PTTIs, others could not write the examination because of the court injunction.
In consultation with the State, the Centre has worked out three options to ensure that their career prospects were not affected. The issue had been hanging fire for more than a year.
Mr. Sibal had a couple of meetings with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, both of whom lead their parties in West Bengal.