Quality Teacher Education: a Critique on the Role of NCTE

          Quality Teacher
Education: a Critique on the Role of NCTE
                                                          Prof.
Mohd. Akhtar Siddiqui*
                                     Published in University News , 50(29) July 16-22,2012
Introduction
Teacher is the undisputed pivot in the complex system of
education that operates anywhere around the world and despite the emergence of
high end information and communication technologies and distance mode learning,
he/she continues to enjoy this key position in the teaching learning process.  Place of teacher is particularly of paramount
significance in societies like ours where most of the learners still depend for
their education entirely or predominantly on formal institutional setting which
is characterized by face to face interaction and sharing of experiences with
teachers and, occasionally, they resort to the use of technology to supplement and
enrich what they learn in schools and colleges under the guidance of teachers. Not
only traditionally, but even in the present times, in many parts of the world,
teachers are revered and considered worth emulating. This respectful status, of
course, is earned by teachers through their professional commitment, dedication
and facilitating attitude towards students.  Quality of education is determined by the
quality of teachers which hinges on their professional preparation and disposition.  It is often said that no nation can rise
above the level of its teachers. So, to see the nation scale new heights of
development, attention must be paid on improving teachers and their teaching
performance, as also on their service conditions and social status.   It is for this distinct space occupied by
teachers in the educational organization and in the society that the system
that prepares them for their calling is often looked at critically, and frequently
remains under discussion of policy planners and other stakeholders in education,
for reforms it needs and support it deserves, particularly of the State.

Historical
Perspective
Teacher education system in the country has been a matter of
serious concern for some decades now. National Commission on Teachers (1985) had
invited the attention to the problem of unsatisfactory teacher preparation and
the lackadaisical attitude shown by the country towards it.  As a part of response to this concern, National
Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) was set up in 1993 on the foundations of the
non-statutory Council instituted in the NCERT in 1973. In order to understand
the role and contribution of NCTE in improving the quality of teacher education
in the country, it would be relevant to first have a cursory look at the
background of the current teacher education system in the country as well as
the circumstances that led to the emergence of this statutory organization.
Although the practice of teacher training in India started in the
pre-independence period with setting up of normal schools and teacher training
institutes and basic training institutes, the arrangement remained limited in
provision for many years even after independence for the fact that the ‘professional
education of teachers’ was a comparatively neglected area despite the emphasis
laid on its significance by the University Education Commission (1949) and
Secondary Education Commission (1953). This resulted in *the writer is the former Chairperson of NCTE and
teaches at the Faculty of Education, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
. mohdakhtarsiddiqui@yahoo.co.in
 appointment of more
than forty percent teachers without training including those who were
unqualified, except in Madras, Kerala and Punjab where proportion of qualified
and trained teachers even
in early years of independence was around eighty percent.  However, it is interesting to note that the
practice of appointing untrained and unqualified teachers in schools was even then
followed not entirely due to non-availability of trained and qualified teachers
but, more importantly, because of financial considerations as untrained and
unqualified teachers used to cost less (NCERT, 1966).  The later reason has continued to drive many
state governments until recently to appoint under-paid para teachers in
schools.  Persistence of the practice of
payment of differential remuneration to teachers may be attributed to the
oversight in the RTE Act of an indicative benchmark for teachers’ salary (Jha,
et al, 2010).  The cost saving objective in
states gets so much of precedence over quality of education that they appoint even
qualified trained persons (almost fifty percent) as para teachers without any
hesitation.  Nevertheless, in post Education
Commission years, gradual enhancement in training capacity in the country improved
the proportion of trained teachers in schools. Thus in 1982-83, as many as 86
percent teachers in primary schools and 89 percent in middle and secondary
schools were trained, but there were considerable regional variations in the size
and quality of teacher training facility. It is for this reason that the
National Commission on  Teachers (1985)
observed that training of teachers demands our urgent attention as what
obtains  now in the majority of  our teacher training institutions  is woefully inadequate in the context of
changing needs of India today (GoI,1985). 
The Commission found that the provision of training facilities was lower
than the all India figures in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar
Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana. Due to fast
expansion in school enrolment, particularly after the implementation of the
National Policy on Education (1986), which nearly doubled its figures between
1986 and 2007, the demand for school teachers got heavily enhanced. During 1980-92,
1992-2002 and 2002-2002-8, 96 lakh, 10.7 lakh and 12.4 lakh teachers, respectively
were  appointed in schools though all of
them were not necessarily trained(MHRD,2010a).
Massive Enrolment in
Correspondence TE Courses and Birth of Statutory NCTE
In an attempt to capitalize on high demand for trained teachers,
in eighties, two universities, one in Haryana and the other in Tamil Nadu began
to offer B.Ed. programme in correspondence mode on a massive scale admitting
students from all over the country in thousands every year who were, later on,
joined by another university in Rajasthan. Soon it led to an outcry against
these programmes as these were found seriously compromising with the quality of
training. The argument was that for proper grounding in the profession, the
first professional qualification in teaching should be acquired through
face-to-face regular mode and that the rising trend in correspondence courses
in teacher education should be checked, which could be done only by a statutory
NCTE, a status which was very much recommended by the National Commission on
Teachers (1985) and was later promised in the NPE 1986. The massive enrolments
in correspondence based teacher education courses provided an immediate and
strong raison de’ etre for action in
this regard and it did not take much time and effort to get the non statutory
NCTE converted into a statutory NCTE. In 1993, the Parliament approved the NCTE
Act and the Council started functioning from 1995 with a mandate to ensure planned and coordinated
development of teacher education in the country and lay down and enforce norms
and standards for all teacher education programmes
. The Council took up
several steps to tone up and regulate the teacher education system and was able
to bring a semblance of discipline in the system in its early years of
inception.
Fall out of Norm
Based Regulatory Approach
As a result of policy change in early nineties, the
government generally encouraged privatization and liberalization in every
sector of economy including education. NCTE took birth around the same time in
this liberalized environment. It notified norms and standards for organizing
different teacher education programmes in 1995. Encouraged by the liberal
policy of the government and guided by the norm based regulatory framework laid
down by the NCTE, a large number of private players, not necessarily
philanthropists, entered into the field of teacher education, as they did in
engineering and other areas of professional education also at that time, and
soon they substantially outnumbered the state run TEIs. As of today, around ninety
percent of the teacher training capacity in the country lies in private self-financed
sector. This was the fall out of mere norm based regulation of growth of
teacher education whereby the Council was unable to stop anybody, who was fully
satisfying these norms, from setting up a teacher education institution (TEI)
in any part of the country, as in the absence of any other qualifying and
legally tenable condition for starting a TEI, refusing any one to set up a TEI
would have meant infringement of  his/her
right to pursue any lawful profession or occupation as guaranteed to all
citizens in the Constitution.   One may
argue that in a free democratic society, there cannot be any objection to
private participation in organizing education. But here the situation is
different  because the issue here relates
with the object of provision of free and compulsory quality education by the State
of which teacher education and development is an integral part and hence, for
the sake of  providing  free quality education to all,  it should be the State’s duty to arrange for
quality teacher education at its own initiative and investment, instead of
leaving it, and that too so much, to private players who are generally guided
by commercial and profit making motive in almost every field of their participation.
Nowhere in the world teacher education has been given in private hands on such
a massive scale as it has been done here.
Growth Pattern of
TEIs
At the start of the NCTE in 1995 there were less than 800 TEIs
in the country (NCTE, 1996).  These were
mostly in government and aided sectors. 
However, they were unevenly distributed across states and levels. Their
number rose to around 1900 by the year 2000, and 2500 by 2003 (NCTE, 2001 &
2003). But during 2004-08, a whopping number of 7273 TEIs mushroomed, of course
with the concurrence of NCTE, out of which 2439 TEIs were approved in 2007-08
alone and thus their number by 2008 jumped to around ten thousand TEIs (NCTE,2008
a & b).  The progress remained
regionally unbalanced and also did not equally cater to all levels of
education. The expansion mostly concentrated in states like AP, Karnataka,
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, HP and UP, and on elementary
teacher education (ETE) and secondary teacher educaation (B.Ed.) courses.  The worst affected were the eastern and north
eastern states where despite heavy requirement of teachers, new institutions
were set up at a snail’s pace. The region being economically weak, prospective
students here do not have the capacity to afford the cost of education charged
by the private TEIs, and hence, there was limited private initiative in this
region. Like other regions, state governments in this region also could not set
up many TEIs to meet the requirement of trained teachers. Lack of interest of
both, public and private sectors in the eastern region can be gauged from the
fact that NCTE’s Eastern Region Office received only  a total of 111 applications for new TEIs in
2007-08 whereas the other three regions received a total of 4696 such
applications in that year (NCTE, 2008b). The severity of the problem of
unbalanced growth of TEIs between regions, not to talk of individual states,
can further be seen from the fact that in 2008, the eastern region states, in
all, had only 500 odd TEIs whereas the states in the other three regions taken
together had almost ten thousand TEIs (NCTE, 2008a). As per Census 2001, the
eastern region states account for around 26 percent population of the country
whereas they have barely five percent teacher training capacity of the country.
 As far as the proportion of the TEIs for
elementary and secondary levels is concerned, in 2008 it was almost the same
for both, whereas the number of elementary level TEIs should have been much
higher than the TEIs for secondary teachers.  The most classic example in this regard was
seen in the state of Bihar where even some long established government TEIs having
vast physical resources and permanent faculty at their disposal, were allowed
to languish and slowly peter out perhaps, at the instance of influential organizers
of private TEIs which though in themselves were quite a few in number (less
than one hundred) and much less than their demand in the state. Also, for many
years, until at the behest of NCTE the court intervened, the state government refused
to appoint teachers as per qualifications laid down by the Council which
further weakened the need for maintaining the existing government TEIs and opening
of new TEIs including those for which the central government was extending
heavy financial support like, DIETs, etc.  Some experts hold a section of teacher
educators themselves partly responsible for the uncontrolled expansion of TEIs
who, ‘for the sake of fringe benefits bestowed on them by private players,
facilitated their recognition’ (Malhotra, 2008). The claim even though
unsubstantiated, may not be disputed.  
Due to rapid growth of TEIs during 2004-08, the institutions
preparing teacher educators could not keep pace with the increased demand of
faculty as their capacity did not expand commensurately because, neither the
government paid any attention on these institutions nor the private sector found
this area economically viable for investment. In the International Seminar on
Elementary Teacher Education, it was rightly observed that though preparation
of teachers depends largely on the quality and preparation of teacher
educators, this is one of the least talked about issues in the discourse on
teacher preparation (MHRD, 2010 b).  Perhaps,
buckling under the pressure of the strong private TEI lobby, NCTE found out a
novel solution to the problem of shortage of teacher educators, and in 2007 it
downgraded the faculty qualification for TEIs from M.Ed. to B.Ed. which led to
a large scale recruitment of faculty possessing the lowered qualification, some
TEIs even removed their faculty with M.Ed. degrees and replaced them with B.Ed.
pass outs as this saved them some more bucks in their salary.  However, scaling down the faculty
qualification invited an all round criticism from educationists and the
government, as this was going to cause further damage to the quality of teacher
preparation at the hands of the fly-by-night TEIs mushroomed recently.   
Banerjee Committee
and
Repeal Proposal Shelved
Baffled by the bulk recognition of self financed TEIs
granted during the last few years many of whom were reported to be sub standard
and disturbed by the reports of rampant malpractices followed in these
institutions in admissions, teaching and examinations, the government decided
to appoint a committee under the chairmanship of Sudeep Banerjee in 2007 to
study the issue and suggest necessary action. The committee came to the
conclusion that the NCTE had moved away from its mandate of ensuring quality
teacher education and was preoccupied with sanctioning institutions.  It paid scant attention to quality of
training and curriculum while fostering privatization in teacher education. It also
presided over lopsided development as a result of which some states were
overcrowded with TEIs while they were few and far between in others. The
government reported in the Parliament in 2008 that the Banerjee Committee
(2007) had observed that the functioning of NCTE was not commensurate with the
objectives of planned and coordinated development of teacher education and
recommended that NCTE Act should be repealed and that the government had
accepted the recommendation.  So, the
very reason for creation of statutory NCTE in 1993 (mushrooming of sub-standard
correspondence B.Ed. courses), had become the justification for its closure
(mushrooming of TEIs and associated malpractices). The government got the nod
of the Cabinet and prepared the NCTE Repeal Bill in 2008. In the meanwhile,
some quarters questioned the wisdom of the government in closing down the
Council for faulty decisions of its functionaries, which was granted a
statutory status after a long struggle of two decades launched with the
establishment of the non-statutory NCTE and had a legitimate purpose to serve
which continues to be relevant and valid.  
Renewed Efforts for
Re-ensuring NCTE’s Mandate
While the Repeal Bill was pending before the Cabinet, the
government seems to have given a second thought to its earlier decision and went
ahead to appoint a fresh team of top functionaries of the Council in 2008 perhaps,
with a view to take another chance to reform the teacher education system
through some stringent mandated actions by the Council. Though the baggage for
the new team was very heavy and full of challenges, facing of which was really a
daunting task, yet sincere efforts brought anticipated results during the next
three years and the Council succeeded in enforcing its mandate with a firm hand,
initiated many reforms and contributed in improving the quality of teacher
education in the country in several ways as explained later.
 A visible impact of these
successful measures by the Council was that the government got convinced that,
if there is a will there is away, and that, the functioning of the Council can
improve and its objectives can be achieved and the system of teacher education
can be reformed with Council’s sincere interventions. After having observed
distinct changes and improvements brought in by the new team in the working of
the NCTE and for the good of the teacher education system, the government
decided to put the NCTE Repeal Bill on hold. The ministers of HRD on several
occasions during 2009-11 also went on record on the floor of the Parliament
about the recent stern actions and reform initiatives taken by the NCTE to tone
up the situation and improve the quality of teacher education in the country,
as is evident from the record of proceedings of the Parliament for that period.
Key Reform
Initiatives of the Council
The Council took many reform initiatives during 2008-11.
Some of them which directly helped in enforcing its mandate of planned and
coordinated development of teacher education and in improving the quality of
teacher education have briefly been discussed here.
·        
Planned and coordinated development of teacher
education is a precondition for quality of training, and it demands that
chaotic and lopsided development of TEIs and TE courses should be replaced by a
need based expansion of TE facility and that in this process a close
coordination should take place with consumers or the state school authorities
and other stake holders so that the need of different level teachers can be
defined and estimated correctly and addressed accordingly in years to come. This
also means that, once armed with trained teachers need estimates, the
regulatory authority would be able to say ‘no’ to those who wish, and also possess
the norm based resources, to establish TEIs in places where there is no need of
more such institutions as there are already enough of them to meet the needs of
schools in the state in the foreseeable future. In a democracy such a decision
cannot be taken unless it is supported by sound arguments and reliable data
which satisfies all canons of justice and is not found violating the
fundamental rights of any citizen to pursue a profession.   NCTE
got the study of demand and supply of trained teachers and teacher educators in
each state expedited on a fast track and, based on initial estimates available,
boldly decided that in those states where sufficient training capacity for a
particular level of teachers already exists, no application for a new
programme/ institution for that level will be accepted. So, for the first time
in the history of NCTE,  blanket ban
orders on opening new TEIs/additional units were notified by the Council for
specific courses, first in seven and then in thirteen states during 2008 and
2011.  Thirty volumes of scientifically
produced reports of the demand and supply estimates of teachers were also
published during 2009-10, separately for each state and UT for reference by all
concerned and for producing them as an authentic basis of the ban decision which
was challenged by many institutions in different courts of law unsuccessfully.
This step greatly helped in checking the unplanned development of TEIs and
commercialization of teacher education. Teacher education development in the
country would have been much less muddled had this kind of detailed need estimation
been done by the NCTE right at its birth, during 1993-95.  As a result of the control measures adopted during
2008-11, pace of progress in TEIs visibly slowed down in all the regions,
except in the eastern region where this pace got improved, though only
moderately. So, in this period of three years only about 1600 TEIs were added.
However, even this addition was only in the states/area where it was really
needed.  About one fourth of this
addition was in the much needed and neglected area of M.Ed. programme (NCTE,
2011).
·        
In states/courses which suffered from shortage
of capacity, concerned authorities were encouraged to set up additional training
facilities and alternative steps were also taken to meet the requirement of
teachers. For example, in UP,  where huge
gaps in demand and supply of elementary teachers existed and there was no
likely-hood of a quick boost in the supply of trained teachers and of bridging
the gap in this area in a short period, and where supply of other teachers, say
secondary level, was in excess of the demand in the state because in the past,
too many TEIs for this level were opened, the problem was addressed by allowing
setting up of new elementary TEIs and also by  designing 
an intensive  training course of
six months for giving a detailed orientation in elementary school teaching to differently
trained teachers and, through an amendment in teacher qualifications,  such differently trained persons with six
months training were also made eligible for appointment in elementary schools.
Similarly, in West Bengal a special bridge course of one year duration was
designed and approved for a given number of primary teachers who were earlier
trained only for one year by the PTTIs.
·        
In the past, as a one-time arrangement to
address the problem of training of untrained teachers who were inducted without
the required professional qualification due to shortage of training capacity in
the state, IGNOU was permitted by the Council to organize in-service training
of a given number of working teachers as requested by the states of Bihar,
Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.  In 2009-10, NCTE
got evaluated the curriculum, study material and delivery arrangements made by
IGNOU for training of untrained teachers in these states. The detailed
evaluation by a high powered committee revealed serious lapses and deficiencies
in almost all the aspects of this programme.  In the interest of training quality of
untrained teachers, NCTE asked IGNOU to remove all the reported deficiencies
within a time frame and revise its curriculum and study material in the light
of the new curriculum framework for teacher education, before any decision
could be taken by the Council on IGNOU’s pending request to renew approval of this
programme. Revision of curriculum and rewriting of the study material by IGNOU
was reportedly in progress.
·        
Monitoring of recognized TEIs as provided in the
Act was also carried out on a large scale and many sub-standard TEIs and those
indulging in mal-practices and were offering poor quality training were
identified and when they failed to improve their ways after an opportunity was
given to them, their recognition was cancelled, despite their well orchestrated
opposition to this step and their smear campaign against the NCTE authorities.
The Council was constrained to take this extreme action against several hundred
TEIs, just in the larger interest of quality of teacher education and quality
of education in schools. The action led to a salutary effect and forced many
other sub-standard TEIs to improve themselves, lest they are also closed down.  
·        
In order to involve the stakeholders in
maintaining a public vigil on the TEIs for their continued adherence to the
laid down norms of infrastructure and faculty and keep a check on their
academic performance and financial records, NCTE in collaboration with C-DAC
launched two portals, one for TEIs and the other for the faculty appointed in
these TEIs and uploading of all basic information accurately on these portals
was made mandatory for all TEIs. The TEIs and the faculty were allotted UIDs on
hosting of the required information on these portals correctly.  The soft ware developed by the C-DAC was smart
enough to quickly detect repeat booking of any faculty in more than one TEIs
and it would refuse to accept him/her on the faculty profile of the TEI and will
not allot him/her any UID. This initiative not only made the TEIs more
transparent and conscious of the stakeholders’ vigil but also checked the
malpractice of fake appointments of faculty in these institutions and forced
them to improve the status of infrastructure, faculty, and student performance
which ultimately had a bearing on quality of teaching learning. The Council
felt that for achieving the objective of effective training in TEIs, constant   monitoring of their day-to-day activities
and processes is necessary which can be carried out more frequently and
regularly by the affiliating and examining bodies including universities who
are equally responsible for achieving this goal. One time monitoring of TEIs by
the NCTE in a cycle of two to three years may not have the optimum impact on
quality of training and institution’s performance.  These bodies were urged to collaborate in
this valuable exercise, but hardly a few of them in states like, Haryana,
Gujarat and AP could visibly participate in this task.
·        
The regulatory framework and norms and standards
help create minimum ground level conditions for quality education in TEIs.
Ambiguous definition of norms provides scope for interpretation and manipulation
which ultimately affect quality of education. The faculty norms, which were
tinkered with in 2007, and which had invited severe criticism from all
concerned, were thoroughly reviewed and revised  along with other norms and standards and
quickly notified in 2009 which put the faculty qualification related
controversy and criticism at rest and also made other norms more rational and
realistic.  The enhanced qualifications
for faculty satisfied the UGC norms as well. Some other norms related to
faculty requirement were also rationalized which addressed genuine hardships of
the TEIs.  The Council also increased the
size of unit of intake in M.Ed. programme without altering faculty requirement
so that out-turn of qualified faculty could be enhanced and faculty shortage
problem in TEIs could partly be taken care. It also urged the universities
without departments of education, to set up these departments and start PG and
research programmes in education to further improve supply of qualified faculty
for TEIs. The faculty requirement in TEIs offering both, UG and PG programmes was
also rationalized and marginally reduced. Similarly, land and infrastructure
norms were also made more clear and rational keeping in view the constraints of
urban and metropolitan areas.
·        
An important decision of the Council that had a
direct bearing on quality of training was regarding imposition of a ceiling of
300 students that a TEI in future would optimally be allowed to admit in all
its approved TE programmes.   Conditions of NAAC accreditation and
maintenance of a time lag for additional intake and new courses were also laid
to serve the purpose of better quality of training. This was done in the wake
of reports that during 2004-08 many TEIs got two and more programmes or units
of the same courses approved from NCTE in a single year without laying any
stress on gestation time after their establishment and on gaining any
experience in organizing the first TE course or first unit of a course
successfully. The size of many self financed TEIs was found out to be quite
unwieldy as, in the absence of any ceiling norms, they got approval for 500 to
700 seats in different courses in a short span of two to three years which
adversely affected the implementation of curriculum and organization of
teaching as well as student-teaching in a large number of schools. Tightening
up of the norms in this regard, therefore, was necessary for enhancing the
quality of delivery and effectiveness of training.
·        
NCTE was conscious of the fact that there are
substantial variations in the quality of teachers graduating from various TEIs,
particularly those located in the self financed sector and that, those coming
out of the substandard TEIs would adversely affect quality of school education,
once they join schools as teachers.  With
a view to stimulate TEIs to provide better training to their students so that
they are readily accepted by the school system as competent teachers, and also
to provide a level playing field to all teachers in the employment market, in
2010, the  NCTE introduced Teacher
Eligibility Test (TET) for elementary school teachers as a part of their
essential qualification which is conducted by the state governments and CBSE strictly
as per the professionally developed test design and  guidelines laid down by the NCTE, under the
supervision of a monitoring committee to be  appointed by the Council for this purpose. To
further push the object of quality education in TEIs and improve performance of
teachers trained by them, a high benchmarking for clearing the TET has been
incorporated in teacher qualification.  In
2011, the Council also approved in principle a similar test, Secondary Teacher
Eligibility Test (STET), for appointment of secondary teachers.  The presumption in introducing TET or STET is
that, for the sake of its reputation and survival in the market, every TEI
would try to ensure that maximum number of its pass outs are able to clear
these tests and for this reason it would pay more attention on quality of  teaching and training and improve its
performance. So far, hardly ten to fifteen percent pass outs of TEIs have been
able to crack TET which is not a very good commentary on the performance of
these institutions, though it is not unexpected also. However, TET is expected
to slowly force the institutions to improve or else become unpopular among
prospective admission seekers and ultimately become unviable and disappear from
the scene. It is heartening to note that TET has been widely welcomed by the
state governments.
·        
Quality of education in any institution
primarily depends on quality of curriculum it follows and quality and
dedication of its teaching personnel. 
Teacher education curriculum is closely linked with developments that
take place at the school as well as societal levels in terms of curriculum and pedagogy,
policy changes and other trends. NCTE does not provide any centrally planned
and uniformly developed curriculum for different TE programmes as it believes,
and rightly so, that curriculum should be context based and flexible and should
be developed in decentralized manner by stakeholders themselves, who have a
better understanding of their needs and contexts, within the framework provided
for this purpose by the Council.  NCTE,
therefore, brings out Curriculum Framework for the benefit and guidance of TEIs
and their examining bodies which are responsible to plan curriculum for
institutions affiliated to them and leaves it to them to draw their own
curricula for different teacher education programmes. While preparing the
framework for TE curriculum, the Council looks at the latest curriculum
framework brought out for school education, expectations and demands of this
framework from teachers, other issues and developments impinging on school
education and young children like, right to education or  sustainable development, etc. and new trends
in pedagogical science, evaluation, etc. 
An updated curriculum framework for teacher education has important
implications for quality of teacher training and hence, it needs to be brought
out by the NCTE at regular intervals. The last curriculum framework for TE was produced
in 1998. Its revision, therefore, was long awaited not only due to the time lag
since 1998 but also on account of two major developments, one, that the NCERT
had brought out National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for school education in
2005 and two, that Right to Education Act was passed in 2009 which expressly required
teachers to shoulder specific responsibilities for effective enforcement of the
RTE. Through a nationwide consultative process and in continuation of some
earlier exercises done in this regard, the Council developed the National
Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) which was released by the
Minister of HRD in early 2010 for adoption or adaptation by the concerned
institutions. The new framework stresses on professionalization of teacher
education to enable teachers to   follow professional
as well as humane approach in their calling which is very much needed in the
context of challenges posed by two basic strands of school education viz.
inclusion and quality. The Framework ‘describes the expectations from
elementary school teachers (as also from teachers at other levels) which, in
turn, have several important implications for their preparation. Some of the
expectations include: Sensitivity to the diversity and to the thinking of
children, and not considering them merely as receivers of knowledge; belief in
the ability of all children to learn; and the ability to construct active and
participatory learning experiences situated in real contexts (MHRD, 2010).   As a
part of the strategy for implementation of NCFTE, several initiatives for
advocacy were taken and series of orientation meets were organized in different
states to develop awareness and sensitization for the new framework and to
encourage its adaptation. With a view to facilitate the implementation and
adaptation of the Framework, suggestive syllabi of different TE courses were spelled
out and uploaded on the NCTE’s website for reference of institutions,  teachers, teacher educators and student
teachers, and development of quality reference reading material for various
areas of study at different levels was also planned. As a part of the process
of professionalization of teacher education, the entire training was proposed
to be more rigorous and of longer duration, which would follow back and forth
model. 
·        
Recognizing the need and importance of a
well-designed and commonly accepted code of Professional Ethics for teachers
particularly in the context of various provisions of the RTE Act, 2009, a code was
developed in consultation with various associations and federations of
elementary and secondary teachers and other stake holders which is to be shared
by the Council with State Governments and other school managements including
KVS, NVS, etc as advisory for adoption/adaptation by them. The Code presents
teachers’ ethical responsibilities towards different stakeholders as well as
colleagues and outlines local, state and national level arrangement to ensure
its internalization and voluntary adherence by teachers.
·        
The processes to be followed by TEIs for
effective implementation of curriculum require various academic and
instructional resources to be fully available with them. It is often seen that
many TEI managements have no clear idea as to what constitutes good
instructional resources and what should be the contents of different resource
centers in the TEI. In 2009, NCTE developed a detailed manual called Organizing Teaching Learning Resources in
TEIs
and disseminated it among the institutions which greatly helped them better
organize and update their teaching resources and use them for imparting training
more effectively. Similarly, in 2009 the Council also produced a valuable
volume, Teacher Education-Reflections
towards Policy Formulation,
for reference of teachers, educators,
educational researchers and policy makers and widely circulated it among the
TEIs. It contained thematic papers contributed by renowned experts in the field
which informed the practitioners about the status, issues and latest trends in
almost all the aspects of teacher education.
·        
The new curriculum requires teachers and teacher
educators to be savvy in ICT skills for their effective integration in teaching
and training. Under the collaborative project, XPDITTE, for teacher educators’
empowerment in ICT, more than 2000 TEIs were covered by 2011 and the exercise
was continuing. The project was a good example of Council’s handholding of and
support to working teacher educators to improve their teaching competence and
performance.
·        
Some important areas in school teaching like, Performing
and Non-performing Arts, which have been emphasized under the RTE Act for ensuring
all round development of children in schools, were not taken up systematically
in many schools by duly qualified teachers for the reason that the Council had
not yet framed any norms for training of such teachers. Considering these areas
as integral parts of school education, NCTE in 2010, notified norms for
training of teachers in both, Performing and Non performing Arts and, to
facilitate institutions to organize these courses effectively, the Council also
developed and disseminated detailed curriculum for both these programmes.
·        
The Council could pay a limited attention to
academic support to TEIs due to its preoccupation with regulatory activities
and, more importantly, for not having academic resources in its organizational
structure.  To equip itself for better
academic support and research based advocacy to the institutions on continuing
basis and help them in reforming  the
content and practice of teacher education in a more meaningful manner, in 2010,
the Council approved creation of some senior and middle level positions of
academic advisors for its headquarters as well as for its regional
offices.  Although the Council enjoys
statutory autonomy yet, the decision needed concurrence of the government
before its implementation which remained pending at their end until the
supersession of the Council. Induction of full time academic experts in the
Council which was visualized and recommended earlier also by the Kaul Committee
appointed by the government in 2002 for suggesting reforms in the NCTE, would bring
a more visible change in functioning of the Council from being predominantly a regulatory
body to a body which is concerned with and provides effective leadership to TEIs
in bringing qualitative change in teacher education.  
Reform Process and
the Bottlenecks
While the Council was sincerely and dedicatedly busy in improving
the teacher education system against all odds and the things had already started
moving in the right direction, and the new curriculum framework and other
initiatives were being recognized and applauded by stakeholders for bringing
visible reforms in teacher education in the short period of three years, it
received a rude shock which shattered its plans to further take forward the
envisioned reform process.  The entire
statutory Council consisting of 43 members representing parliamentarians, working and former vice chancellors, scholars, teacher
educators and other select citizens, was unexpectedly superseded by a gazette
notification and all the members had to vacate their offices immediately, which
perhaps sent the message that the Council in its present term performed no
better or rather worse than what it did during 2004-08 and hence, it deserved this
humbling action.   The government enjoys abundance of powers and
resources. It could have easily singled out and nabbed the defaulting top
official(s)/member(s) of the Council and they could have been systematically
tried and chucked out and given
exemplary punishment and this way, the prestige 
 of the Council and the momentum
of its reform initiatives could have been saved.  Institutions as well as individuals, especially
those occupying responsible positions in national or key organizations, should surely
be held accountable for their deeds.  But,
stifling the autonomy of apex bodies of education in the name of accountability
kills innovation and initiative and harms the cause of education brunt of which
is ultimately borne by none else than the education system and the nation. Today,
it is rather frightening to imagine about the power and penetration of
influence of those having vested interest in education sector who,if not
pleased by the principled decisions of a few officials in an organization, have
the capacity to get the entire body penalized or even demolished to satisfy
their ends and egos.   Commenting on the
present TE scenario, an educationist  has
observed that  ‘the NCTE  again lost its head just as it began to  take up and respond resolutely and sensibly
to important agendas-such as preparing a new teacher education curriculum framework
, setting down teacher qualifications to be notified under RTE; and formulating
the teacher eligibility test. Some states which had just begun to initiate a
review of the state D.Ed. curricula, have now put the processes on hold in
response to these confusing signals from the Center (Sarangapani, 2011).  
Way Forward
However, notwithstanding the temporary setback to the reform
process on account of the unfortunate dissolution of the Council, people with
genuine professional commitment to the cause of quality teacher education should
restart the processes with a fresh vigour in the larger interest of quality of school
education.
·        
The spirit of the NCFTE needs to be taken
forward as expeditiously as possible by organizing series of orientation and
empowerment workshops for curriculum reconstruction and universities and boards
be urged to reform their TE curricula within a given time frame and
simultaneously, alternative models of teacher education as visualized in the
document should be started on experimental basis in select places with support
from the government.  Some state
governments, who after the launch of the NCFTE had shown their interest in the
alternative models, may be encouraged and facilitated in this regard.
·        
Truly innovative models of teacher education,
and not the ones camouflaged as innovative and presented just to seek increase
in courses/seats,  proposed by credible
institutions should be allowed with flexible conditions and be followed up on a
time line to gather useful learning, provide feedback and take further decision
on their continuance and replication on a larger scale; and a policy shift should
take place for accepting multiple alternative models of teacher education as a
part of teacher qualification.
·        
No curricular reform can succeed in reaching the
grass root level teacher and teacher educator and change their understanding
and practices unless teaching learning material reflecting the new curricular approach
is available to them for their reference in their language. Therefore, the task
of development and simultaneous translation of quality reference material for
different teacher education programmes by those who understand the philosophy
of the new curriculum framework should be taken up immediately in mission mode.
Special care would have to be exercised in identifying writers and translators
in this regard.
·        
On management front, the initiative of TEI and
teacher educator portals on which already a majority of the TEIs have uploaded
their information should be taken forward and should be used as an effective
tool of monitoring through public and stakeholders’ gaze.  Access to these portals by anyone may be
allowed and stakeholders may be encouraged to bring to the notice of the NCTE, as
also to other authorities, any discrepancies found and, after a cross
verification, may be accepted as a basis for further action.
·        
TET experience suggests that it should be
extended to all levels of teachers and in order to ensure full enforcement of
TET guidelines, a monitoring committee of the NCTE, as was decided in the
policy document of TET approved by the Council, should be constituted which
should look into the quality and design of the tests held so far and advise the
states accordingly.  What percentage of
pass-outs of individual institutions are clearing TET should be brought to
public knowledge and should be linked up with their performance monitoring and
accreditation and gradation, then only the purpose of TET would be fully
served.
·        
No reform in teacher education and no
improvement in performance of TEIs can fully and effectively be accomplished
unless the examining and affiliating institutions, universities and state
education boards/departments sincerely cooperate and collaborate with the apex
body. All out efforts should be launched to bring them on board in the entire
teacher education reform campaign. 
Ensuring that the prescribed curriculum is being implemented on day to
day basis in letter and spirit and prescribed learning experiences are being
acquired by all enrolled trainee teachers and attendance norms for this purpose
are being fulfilled, are some such issues which need to be looked into by
examining/affiliating bodies before allowing students of any TEI to be admitted
for final examination and certification.
·        
Last but not the least important intervention
relates to the very provision and organization of teacher education in the
country. As already explained earlier, in the interest of quality school
education the government will have to come forward and take a primary
responsibility to organize teacher education in the country. In the name of liberalization
and privatization, the government cannot just wash its hands of this
responsibility and cannot just sit back complacently by floating a few half
successful centrally sponsored token schemes or projects for teacher education
as is being done since 1987. However utopian and revolutionary this proposition
may look, the government will have to accept teacher preparation and
development as its national responsibility and will have to take a bold step to
reverse the proportion of public-private participation in teacher education, as
is done in most parts of the world. Eastern region, which is most neglected, as
far as TE facility is concerned, can be the starting point for this policy
change. Education of teacher educators can be another area where a major
initiative can be taken by the government to set up a chain of PG
departments/colleges of education as per requirement in each state.

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