2 Mar 2011

Role of Education in India: Supreme Court notes

Noting that proper education forms the backdrop of a healthy democracy, the Supreme Court in a recent decision [State of Orissa v. Mamata Mohanty] has observed the role played by teachers in the education dispensation exercise and thus the importance of the procedure required to be followed in selecting proper teachers. The Court was dealing with the challenge to the selection procedure adopted by Director of Higher Education, Orissa for appointment of teachers.

In this context, the Supreme Court reminded about the importance of teachers in the country inter alia in the following terms;
14. Education is the systematic instruction, schooling or training given to the young persons in preparation for the work of life. It also connotes the whole course of scholastic instruction which a person has received. Education connotes the process of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind and character of students by formal schooling. The excellence of instruction provided by an educational institution mainly depends directly on the excellence of the teaching staff. Therefore, unless they themselves possess a good academic record/minimum qualifications prescribed as an eligibility, it is beyond imagination of anyone that standard of education can be maintained/enhanced. “We have to be very strict in maintaining high academic standards and maintaining academic discipline and academic rigour if our country is to progress”. “Democracy depends for its very life on a high standard of general, vocational and professional education. Dissemination of 'learning with search for new knowledge with discipline all round must be maintained at all costs”. (Vide: The Sole Trustee Loka Shikshana Trust v. The Commissioner of Income Tax, Mysore, AIR 1976 SC 10; Frank Anthony Public School Employees’ Association v. Union of India & Ors., AIR 1987 SC 311; Osmania University Teachers’ Association v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr., AIR 1987 SC 2034; and Director (Studies), Dr. Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Nutrition & Catering Technology, Chandigarh & Ors. v. Vaibhav Singh Chauhan, (2009) 1 SCC 59). 
15. In Meera Massey (Dr) v. S.R. Mehrotra (Dr) & Ors., AIR 1998 SC 1153, this Court extensively quoted the Report of the University Education Commission, i.e., Radhakrishnan Commission, wherein grave concern was expressed observing that “there is negligence in applying criteria of merit in the selection” of teachers. The Court also quoted from another Report of the Committee on some problems of University Administration 1964(1967) as:
“The most important factor in the field of higher education is the type of person entrusted with teaching. Teaching cannot be improved without competent teachers. ... The most critical problem facing the universities is the dwindling supply of good teachers. ... The supply of the right type of teachers assumes, therefore, a vital role in the educational advancement of the country. 
The Court further observed as under: 
“University imparts education which lays foundation of wisdom. Future hopes and aspiration of the country depends on this education, hence proper and disciplined functioning of the educational institutions should be the hallmark. If the laws and principles are eroded by such institutions it not only pollutes its functioning, deteriorating its standard but also exhibits to its own students the wrong channel adopted. If that be so, how could such institutions produce good citizens? It is the educational institutions which are the future hope of this country. They lay the seed for the foundation of morality, ethics and discipline. If there is any erosion or descending by those who control the activities all expectations and hopes are destroyed.”
16 In Chandigarh Administration & Ors. v. Rajni Vali & Ors., AIR 2000 SC 634, this Court observed as under: 
“It is a constitutional mandate that the State shall ensure proper education to the students on whom the future of the society depends. In line with this principle, the State has enacted statutes and framed rules and regulations to control/regulate establishment and running of private schools at different levels. The State Government provides grant-in-aid to private schools with a view to ensure smooth running of the institution and to ensure that the standard of teaching does not suffer on account of paucity of funds. It needs no emphasis that appointment of qualified and efficient teachers is a sine qua non for maintaining high standards of teaching in any educational institution.”
17. In view of the above, it is evident that education is necessary to develop the personality of a person as a whole and in totality as it provides the process of training and acquiring the knowledge, skills, developing mind and character by formal schooling. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a high academic standard and academic discipline along with academic rigour for the progress of a nation. Democracy depends for its own survival on a high standard of vocational and professional education. Paucity of funds cannot be a ground for the State not to provide quality education to its future citizens. It is for this reason that in order to maintain the standard of education the State Government provides grant-in-aid to private schools to ensure the smooth running of the institution so that the standard of teaching may not suffer for want of funds. Article 21A has been added by amending our Constitution with a view to facilitate the children to get proper and good quality education. However, the quality of education would depend on various factors but the most relevant of them is excellence of teaching staff. In view thereof, quality of teaching staff cannot be compromised. The selection of the most suitable persons is essential in order to maintain excellence and the standard of teaching in the institution. It is not permissible for the State that while controlling the education it may impinge the standard of education. It is, in fact, for this reason that norms of admission in institutions have to be adhered to strictly. Admissions in mid academic sessions are not permitted to maintain the par excellence of education.

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