Promotion of Teaching Excellence and Raising of standards of Teacher Education in INDIA


A. N. Maheshwari


I am indeed honoured to give a keynote address at this virtual conference. I had some initial reservations in accepting the invitation for I have not been a teacher of school mathematics. I agreed to take part in this unique event because I thought teachers in Australia might be interested in knowing from the Chairperson of the National Council for Teacher Education how standards of teacher education are being regulated in India. Also, I felt interested in getting a firsthand experience of participation in a virtual conference. In order to place in perspective the complexity of issues of teacher education that I would like to highlight it may be helpful to teachers in Australia to know a brief overview of development of teacher education in India.

In sheer size itself the school education system in India may be one of the largest systems of education in the world. In order to understand its complexity it will be helpful to know its brief history. From ancient times till the early part of the nineteenth century, when for the first time a state funded formal system of education was introduced in the country, arrangement of schooling of children was a community responsibility. A person from the community who was called the guru provided education to children at his home. Such a schooling arrangement was called gurukul as the teaching learning took place at the home called the kul of the guru. When in the first quarter of the nineteenth century the Colonial Government set up formal schools on the pattern of grammar schools in Europe the appointment of teachers and their training became the responsibility of the State. For training teachers for its elementary schools the first normal training school was established in 1856. When secondary schools were opened the need arose for training of secondary school teachers. To meet this need six training colleges were set up in the country between 1886 and 1894. In the post independence period that is after 1947 a phenomenal expansion took place of school system including that of the teacher education system. The Sixth All India Educational Survey (Main Report; published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi (1999)) has revealed that in 1993 there were 905,900 schools and 4,197,555 teachers. For providing teachers for a rapidly expanding school system more than 2000 teacher training institutions are involved. Over 200,000 persons undergo pre-service teacher training each year.

The total duration of school education is 12 years. It comprises of 8 years of elementary stage, which is preceded by pre-school, followed by 4 years of secondary stage. Training of teachers for these three broad stages of schooling is provided through stage specific pre-service courses. State Boards of School Education are responsible for conducting examinations and certification of pre-school and elementary teacher education courses. Universities give the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree for teaching at the secondary level. There are 26 States and 6 Union Territories and over 200 Universities in the country. In the face of such a diverse situation it became imperative to regulate standards of teacher education in the country.

In the constitution of India education is in the concurrent list of subjects that are the joint responsibility of the Union Government and that of the State Governments. Therefore, for regulating standards of teacher education in the country the Parliament passed an Act for establishing a statutory body called the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). In 1995 the ACT passed by the Parliament received concurrence of the States and for the first time in the country regulation of standards of teacher education became mandatory. The NCTE Act provided for constitution of a Council by the Central Government. The functions given to the Council in the Act are:

It shall be the duty of the Council to take all such steps as it may think fit for ensuring planned and co-ordinated development of teacher education and for the determination and maintenance of standards of teacher education and for the purposes of performing its functions under this Act, the Council may

(a) Undertake surveys and studies relating to various aspects of teacher education and publish the result thereof;

(b) Make recommendations to the Central and State Government, Universities, University Grants Commission and recognised institutions in the matter of preparation of suitable plans and programmes in the field of teacher education;

(c) Co-ordinate and monitor teacher education and its development in the country;

(d) Lay down guidelines in respect of minimum qualifications for a person to be employed as a teacher in schools or in recognised institutions;

(e) Lay down norms for any specified category of courses or training in teacher education, including the minimum eligibility criteria for admission thereof, and the method of selection of candidates, duration of the course, course contents and mode of curriculum;

(f) Lay down guidelines for compliance by recognised institutions, for starting new courses or training, and for providing physical and instructional facilities, staffing pattern and staff qualification;

(g) Lay down standards in respect of examinations leading to teacher education qualifications, criteria for admission to such examinations and schemes of courses or training;

(h) Lay down guidelines regarding tuition fees and other fees chargeable by recognised institutions;

(i) Promote and conduct innovation and research in various areas of teacher education and disseminate the results thereof;

(j) Examine and review periodically the implementation of the norms, guidelines and standards laid down by the Council, and to suitably advise the recognised institution;

(k) Evolve suitable performance appraisal system, norms and mechanism for enforcing accountability on recognised institutions.

(l) Formulate schemes for various levels of teacher education and identify recognised institutions and set up new institutions for teacher development programmes;

(m) Take all necessary steps to prevent commercialisation of teacher education; and

(n) Perform such other functions as may be entrusted to it by the Central Government.

The Council is empowered to frame regulations required for carrying out its regulatory functions. The Regulations after being placed before both the Houses of the Parliament and their gazette notification are enforceable by law. The Council has framed norms and standards for different teacher education courses including for courses of education of teacher educators such as the Master of Education (M.Ed.). The Act made it mandatory on all institutions that were conducting teacher-training courses prior to 17th August 1995 to apply to the NCTE within six months of the notification of the Act for recognition of their course. Also, all institutions that intend to start course/s on teacher education have to apply to the NCTE for recognition of their programme. The norms framed by the Council for different teacher education courses have been issued in the form of regulations.

The Council performs its regulatory functions through four Regional Committees. For determining the territorial jurisdictions of the Regional Committees the country has been divided into four geographical regions; North, South, East and West. Institutions are required to apply to the concerned Regional Committee under whose jurisdiction they fall. Regional Committees take the help of visiting teams of experts for inspecting institutions on their behalf. Norms and standards for each course framed by the Council have fixed the essential physical and instructional infrastructure including the faculty and the supporting staff that an institution must possess for conducting the courses on teacher education. Regulations on norms and standards are used as reference for deciding the grant of recognition to an institution for conducting a course on teacher education. The Act has also provided for an Appeals Committee, which is empowered to examine the appeals of institutions against decisions of the Regional Committees. The NCTE has gained acceptance as a regulatory body largely because of the provision in the ACT that now teachers in schools belonging to the State can be appointed from among only those persons who have undergone teacher training in a NCTE recognised institution.

In the five years of its existence the Council has recognised over 2000 teacher education institutions. Because of its efforts it has been possible to restore order in a complex system, which because of the diversity of conditions in the country was increasingly getting chaotic. The functions that have been given to the Council are in various stages of implementation. Although, the Council has taken the first steps in its march for raising standards of teacher education in the country, there is a long path to be traversed for impact of the Council to become clearly visible. The next step will be to regulate transaction of curriculum when essential conditions for running a course have been ensured.

There are about 30,000 teacher educators teaching in these 2000 teacher training colleges. The quality of transaction of programmes will depend crucially on the preparedness of teacher educators themselves. Therefore, recurrent in-service education of teacher educators will be essential for introducing continual changes in pre-service courses so that teachers are prepared for changing leaning needs of students. The NCTE finances researches on teacher education and development of resource materials that can be used by teacher educators. Resource materials relevant to teacher education have been developed and published by the NCTE.

In order to bring transparency in the regulatory functions of the Council and for making resources on teacher education widely accessible the Council has put up a website. On the website of the Council for ready reference of institutions norms and standards have been put up. The website has been provided with active search facility, which can be used for locating individual profile of any of the training institutions that have been recognised by the NCTE. The URL of the NCTE website is


What I have described may not be of direct interest to mathematics teachers of Australia. All the same, I thought that I should take advantage of this opportunity of addressing the participants of the Conference in sharing my experiences of managing one of the largest teacher education system in the world. I hope that my participation in the Virtual Conference will enable the mathematics teachers in Australia to appreciate the complexity of teacher education in the world's largest democracy that is bogged down with the burden of having the bulk of illiterates of the world. I will welcome suggestions of participants of the Conference on how I can draw upon the experience of Australian mathematics teachers in helping the mathematics teachers in India. Teacher educators who may be taking part in this event may like to share with me their experience in raising standards of pre-service education of mathematics teachers.