The Madras High Court on Wednesday criticised teachers of Tamil Nadu government schools for going on strike frequently, saying their agitation affected students in the state, PTI reported. The bench held the teachers’ strikes responsible for the poor performance of students from government schools in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, which is the deciding factor in admissions to undergraduate medical and dentistry colleges.

“Only five government school students from the state managed to secure medical seats, and protesting teachers should should feel ashamed of this fact,” Justice N Kirubakaran said, according to PTI. “They should know their responsibility...such persons cannot be involved in strikes.”

The High Court asked the Tamil Nadu government to file a report by September 18, detailing the steps taken to bring teachers’ protests to an end. Kirubakaran sought information on the number of teachers’ unions who were on strike instead of taking classes. The judge also asked how many schools had been affected because of the protests.

The court made the comments while hearing a petition seeking an expert committee to prepare students who scored low in the Neet and to boost their morale. The petitioner alleged that several teachers had not been taking classes in government schools for several months, PTI reported.

The petitioner said the committee could also counsel students who lost the opportunity to join medical colleges, to prevent incidents similar to the suicide of 17-year-old medical aspirant S Anitha.

The Neet controversy

In Tamil Nadu, medical admissions were based on marks scored in Class 12 examinations, which were conducted by the state education board. Neet, however, is based on the Central Board of Secondary Education’s syllabus, which is vastly different.

The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the Neet and said a common test will harm the prospects of students from the state.

Anitha, in her appeal against the Neet in the Supreme Court, had pointed out how poor students who lived in villages could not afford the private coaching classes that students in cities could.