Teacher Education and Certification in India

Professor A. N. Maheshwari

Chairperson, NCTE




India has had its indigenous system of education called the gurukul. The village school in ancient India was called gurukul, as the schooling took place at the home (kul) of the teacher, who was called the guru. It is not known whether a person became a guru because of his scholarship or was a person from among the educated in the village who had also received training in becoming a guru. This system continued till the first quarter of the nineteenth century when schools similar to schools in Europe replaced village schools. It was realised that village schoolmasters could not be expected to teach that in which they themselves had never been instructed. Between 1815 and 1854, therefore, opinion in favour of introduction of teacher training gradually began to build leading to introduction of normal schools in the country. With the first normal schools that were started in 1856 teacher training became an integral part of the Indian education system. The Indian Education Commission (1882) approved introduction of separate teacher education programmes for elementary and secondary teachers. Training colleges affiliated to universities were opened in a few of the selected towns. These colleges conducted programmes called the Licentiate in Teaching, which later gained the status of a degree, called the B.Ed. Thus a formal system of teacher education came into being which even after a lapse of one hundred years carries close resemblance with its original form. The initial division of jurisdiction for certification of teachers for teaching at the elementary stage given to the State Departments of Education and that for teaching at the secondary stage given to the universities continues to be the practice even today. Certificate for teaching at the elementary stage has been given different names by states. Some of them are BTC (Basic Teaching Certificate), D.Ed. (Diploma in Education), TTC (Teachers' Training Certificate) and there are many others. But all of them are considered equivalent for the purpose of teaching in primary and upper-primary schools. The course that prepares teachers for teaching in secondary schools is called B.Ed. and equivalent degrees are given by as many as 200 universities.


In the post-independence period school education expanded rapidly. Teacher education also expanded during this period in response to meeting the requirement of teachers for new schools. A large number of new teachers' education institutions were started by both the State and by private management. The 6th All India Educational Survey carried out by the National Council of Teacher has revealed that in 1993 there were about 900,000 schools and about 4.6 million teachers in the country. As of now about 2000 teacher education institutions are engaged in preparation of teachers for different school stages.


Schooling system in India comprises of pre-school, elementary, secondary and senior secondary stages. The elementary stage is split into primary and the upper-primary stages. Schooling is offered in formal, non-formal and distance modes. Teacher education courses, therefore, are matched with the requirements of teaching-learning for the concerned stage and mode of schooling. In addition to courses for pre-service education of teachers for teaching academic subjects specialised pre-service courses for teaching subjects such as physical education, art and aesthetics are also offered by teacher education institutions.

Face-to-face teacher education programmes could not always meet the growing demand of teachers. This situation at times was met by some universities in offering teacher education courses using correspondence mode. The correspondence courses for preparing teachers were viewed with concern. It was realised that as teaching is a professional activity those who only learnt it theoretically cannot effectively carry it out. Experts held the view that for becoming a good teacher face-to-face guidance from experts was essential. In the wake of such developments the Parliament of India through an Act set up in 1995 the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and gave it statutory powers for framing regulations and norms for maintaining standards of teacher education in the country. As the NCTE has been given a broad mandate with legal powers for improving the quality of teacher education and preventing commercialisation its functions have had direct bearing on teacher certification.


Functions of the NCTE


The NCTE performs functions that are regulatory and also concerned with academic development of teacher education. Its functions are wide ranging and include among others planning, programming, advising, and formulations of norms for different teacher education courses. In addition the NCTE is expected to undertake periodic surveys, studies, and researches for promotion of innovations in teacher education and for institutional development. The following list gives its functions in detail.

  1. To undertake surveys and studies relating to various aspects of teacher education and publish the results thereof,
  2. To make recommendations to the Central and State Governments, Universities, and recognised institutions in the matter of preparation of suitable plans and programs in the field of teacher education,
  3. To co-ordinate and monitor teacher education and its development in the country,
  4. To lay down guidelines in respect of minimum qualifications for a person to be employed as a teacher in schools or in recognised institutions,
  5. To lay down norms for any specified category of courses of training in teacher education, including the minimum eligibility criteria for admission thereof, and the method of selection of candidates, duration of the courses, course contents and mode of curriculum,
  6. To 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 qualifications,
  7. To lay down standards in respect of examinations leading to teacher education qualifications, criteria for admission to such examinations and schemes of courses of training,
  8. To lay down guidelines regarding tuition fees and other fees chargeable by recognised institutions,
  9. To promote and conduct innovation and research in various areas of teacher education and disseminate the results thereof,
  10. To examine and review periodically the implementation of the norms, guidelines and standards laid down by the Council, and to suitably advise the recognised institutions,
  11. To evolve suitable performance appraisal systems, norms and mechanisms for enforcing accountability on recognised institutions,
  12. To formulate schemes for various levels of teacher education and identify recognised institutions and set up new institutions for teacher development programs,
  13. To take all necessary steps to prevent commercialisation of teacher education, and perform such other functions as may be entrusted to it by the Central Government.


The status of work performed by the NCTE with respect to each of the above listed tasks can be found out from its website. The URL of its website is



By laying down norms for different teacher education courses the NCTE has tried to regulate standards of teacher education. But why the NCTE fixed new norms when norms existed can be best appreciated in the context of diversity in teacher education that was the hallmark of teacher education prior to the enactment of the NCTE Act. Each university and Directorate of Education regulated standards of teacher education in institutions affiliated to it by fixing requirements of physical and instructional infrastructure, human resources, financial resources, and courses and schemes of examinations etc. When education was included in the list of concurrent subjects, it became a joint responsibility of the Central Government and that of the thirty-two States and Union Territories.


The National Policy of Education (1986/1992) stipulated that education of comparable standards should be made available through out the country. Therefore, it became imperative to set up a regulatory body by central legislation so that common norm could be framed and enforced. The NCTE framed norms and regulations and instituted a system of grant of recognition and made it mandatory on all institutions engaged in teacher education to conform to its norms.


Experts in teacher education decided the format of norms after discussing it widely in the country. There were arguments in favour of framing process norms supported with regulations for their enforcement. In general, it was favoured that the regulatory functions be carried out in two time segments. In the first stage, norms on infrastructure both physical and instructional may be enforced and in the second stage, qualitative norms around process of curriculum transaction may be enforced. However, recognition to new institutions will be guided by infrastructure norms and recognition to the existing institutions will be guided by both infrastructure-input and curricular-process norms.

Implementation of norms included their gazette notification, creation of awareness about them through mass media and holding state level workshops etc. The Act made recognition of institutions by the NCTE compulsory and new teacher education courses could be started only after obtaining permission of the NCTE. It was regulated that only those who have obtained teaching certificate by studying in institutions recognised by the NCTE will be legally eligible for employment in state supported schools.




The strict implementation of norms posed a number of financial and infrastructure problems for both aided and unaided institutions. Some of the institutions felt that their financial resources were insufficient in running teacher education programmes at the standards set by the NCTE. Charging of exorbitant fees by unaided institutions could be checked. The law courts generally endorsed supremacy of the NCTE in regulating standards of the quality of teacher education in the country and passed strictures against defaulting institutions.

In a vast country like India challenge of preparing teachers competent and committed to imparting quality education shall continue to be a daunting task for sometime. Therefore, although some order could be restored in teacher education system, yet it shall remain a continuous battle for the NCTE. It is a hope that once minimum common standards of teacher education are enforced the next step will be to accredit institutions in terms of quality standards.



Articles of Professor A. N. Maheshwari