In its latest order which was announced on July 26, the Supreme Court has put a hold on to its decision of cancelling the appointment of 1.78 lakh Shiksha Mitras in the state of Uttar Pradesh. An order released on July 25 from Supreme Court’s end said that these teachers are actually not qualified to be full-time teachers.
Although the stay has provided some relief to these teachers, however, there is still a level of uncertainty hovering over their career. For the time being, it has been instructed to let Shiksha Mitras work under ‘Stop Gap’ arrangement.
In 1999, with a view to increase the spread of education and also due to lack of proper staff, the UP Government started appointing ‘Shiksha Mitra’ in the government schools of the state. These Shiksha Mitras helped the villagers to get their children enrolled in schools and also were asked to increase the awareness of education in the villages. These Shiksha Mitras only needed to have a qualification up to Intermediate level. Also, every school was required to have 2 Shiksha Mitras appointed in it.
Slowly, the number of these contractual helpers or Shiksha Mitras started to increase as all the schools started to appoint 2 Shiksha Mitras, as per the guideline of the Government. Nearly 1.5 lakh Shiksha Mitras were appointed up to 2009, and the appointment of new ones was still going on.
In 2009, The Parliament of India passed the Right to Education Act which came into force in 2010. Under this act, Children up to the age of 14 years had the right to free basic education. In this situation, the UP Government, which was already facing the issue of lack of staff, started upgrading the contractual helpers or Shiksha Mitras as full-time teachers, to cover the need of the state to have a proper amount of teaching staff. With this, their pay scale, which used to be INR 2250 per month in the initial days, was now raised to INR 39000.
The thing to be noted in this upgrade given to Shiksha Mitras was that it was done without any entrance test or anything like this, and was done solely on the basis that people who are appointed as Shiksha Mitra will directly be upgraded, without checking their actual qualification at the current moment. The state government had amended its ‘Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Service Rules, 1981’, for this purpose.
Now, back in 2010, The National Council for Teachers’ Education (NCTE) had made it necessary for all the candidates to pass UPTET to be able to be qualified as proper full time teacher the for appointment. Thus, according to this rule, the upgrade of Shiksha Mitras as full time teachers was invalid, as they had not passed the test which is necessary, thus making them disqualified for appointment.
Thus, in September 2015, the Allahabad High Court ruled out the appointment of these teachers, thus causing a huge disturbance in the system and giving a new set of problems to those newly upgraded Shiksha Mitras. However, the issue was then taken to Supreme Court and the apex court put a stay on the order of High Court, thus letting the newly upgraded teachers to enjoy their upgraded post, at least for some time.
Every year, the Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Board (UPBEB) conducts UPTET for recruitment of Primary and Upper Primary Level teachers in the schools of Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh Teacher Eligibility Test (UPTET) is a state-level exam, that is conducted in offline mode.
On July 25, 2017, a bench of judges comprising Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit looked upon the issue, and finally ended up supporting the decision given by the Allahabad High Court and thus canceling the appointment of Shiksha Mitras as regular teachers. The bench said that the regularization of teachers was against the provisions of Right to Education Act as it required that the teachers should have the minimum qualifications required for appointment.
The bench also said the Shiksha Mitras who already have the required qualification will be allowed to be appointed as Shiksha Mitras and thus their appointment will not be canceled. But the appointment of all the Shiksha Mitras as teachers will be against the law, and will also not the serve the purpose of Right to Education Act.
The bench also stated that it has made provisions that Shiksha Mitras continue to work under ‘Stop Gap’ arrangement, which means allowing them to work up to the time proper supply of qualified teachers could be attained. But it also said that ultimately only the qualified people will be allowed to act as regular teachers.
It also said that it might be possible to give some weightage to Shiksha Mitras for appointment or they might be given some age relaxation, but the ultimate law of qualification will not be ignored anyway. The bench also said that no state has the authority to relax or decrease the level of qualification required under Right to Education Act.
The latest decision of Supreme Court has literally put a big question mark on the careers of Shiksha Mitras. This has also put the education system of the state in a big problem, as all the Shiksha Mitras have decided not to attend schools. The Supreme Court has suggested the Allahabad High Court to make some provisions of appointment of Shiksha Mitras, which has given the Shiksha Mitras some hope.
Meanwhile, Jitendra Shahi, who is the head of Shiksha Mitra Welfare Association, has threatened that all the Shiksha Mitras will continue the strike if the state government does not provide them the assurance that careers of Shiksha Mitras will not be adversely affected. All these incidents have caused a great turmoil in the education system of the state, thus putting both Shiksha Mitras and the children of the state in big problem.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.