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Qualified, Yet Not Qualified: Testing Times for TN Lawyers and Teachers

Lawyers blame an irrelevant question paper and the system of negative marking for the dismal results.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:May 2, 2019, 6:58 PM IST
Qualified, Yet Not Qualified: Testing Times for TN Lawyers and Teachers
Image for representation.

Chennai: An exam which 3,562 people took. And which all flunked. Yes, such an exam also exists. All were lawyers, and it doesn't look like they set the bar too high.

Puns apart, Tamil Nadu seems to be staring at a situation where all the lawyers who took exams for recruitment as district judges having failed to qualify. They were, by the way, competing for just 31 vacancies.

When exams were announced in January for recruitment of district judges, there were 3,562 lawyers who were shortlisted for the preliminary exams from more than 8,000 who had applied for it. Exams were held by the Judicial Services Recruitment Board last month (on April 6), and all these lawyers have failed to crack it.

The highest mark was just 24 out of the total 150 marks for which questions were set -- and expectedly, this was way below the cut-off. The cut-off mark was 60 for those in the general category, 52.5 marks for Most Backward Caste (MBC) candidates and 49 for SC candidates.

As much as 90% of the candidates scored in the negative.

Lawyers blame an irrelevant question paper and the system of negative marking for the dismal results.

“Negative marking was the main reason people have got such low scores. There was no proper time frame between the date of exam and the date of announcement. They announced the exam dates during Pongal and the exam was in April and practising lawyers like me found it very hard to manage time for studying,” said one of the lawyers who took the exam (On Condition of anonymity).

He also felt the questions were vague and irrelevant for a district judge’s appointment. The question paper accessed by News 18.com focused more on analytical and reasoning skills. One of the questions was: Who was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Madras, whose portrait is displayed in the 1st court of the Madras High Court of? Those who flunked the exam say these are not the kind of questions lawyers should know.

"By and large questions were very vague. We were not able to comprehend. They asked questions like how the name Bluetooth was coined…. And questions like if a person meets with an accident, what will your idea of first aid be ?...” the lawyer said.

He has an experience over 15 years at the Bar and is hopeful that it will be conducted again this year. Usually it happens once in six years.

Twinning with this dismal performance of lawyers is that of teachers. Barely 4% of teachers who wrote the Tamil Nadu Teachers' Eligibility Test (TNTET) have qualified. The good news, though, is that there are still 34,979 teachers who qualified.

This test, for recruitment of teachers to government schools, drew more than 7.53 lakh applicants. Only 34,979 made the cut. Four candidates went to the Madras High Court seeking relief, but the court refused to do so, further ordering the government to initiate action over the next two weeks against those who haven't qualified.

“This Court is of the considered opinion that if a teacher is unable to pass the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) conducted by the authorities, in a period of 8 years, how the court can come to the conclusion that such a teacher is qualified to continue in the post and teach the students. It is not the capability of a person to be considered. The Government itself has given extension of time, and already, eight years (have) lapsed. Thus, there is no point in granting further extension of time for the purpose of acquisition of the qualifications of the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET),” the order stated.

The High Court also observed that thousands of candidates who cleared TET are still unemployed.

It said in its order: “It is brought to the notice of this Court that 60,000 fully-qualified unemployed candidates are waiting for appointment to the post of teachers. Those 60,000 candidates have already passed Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) or National Eligibility Test. When 60,000 unemployed youths are waiting and aspiring appointment to secure the Post of Teachers, there is no reason for the Government to retain such unqualified Teachers in the Post.”

P Prathibha, who has been a teacher for over 10 years and is one of the candidates who failed in the TET exam, said, “We have to answer questions of different subjects. For instance, I am an English major but I have to clear subjects like history, maths and physics as well. Neither the results nor is the correction and selection of teachers a fair process. I feel that there’s political influence and favouritism and common people aren’t given fair chance.”

Pratibha and other candidates say that they will continue to teach and will work harder to clear TET the next time it is held.

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