Teacher education and the NCTE’s role

Jul 26th, 2009 | By editor | Category: Readers Say, Viewing News

Need for a paradigm shift from a regulatory to a developmental approach

R. SETHURAMAN

The University Education Commission (1948-49), the Kothari Commission (1952) and the Education Commission (1964-66) recognised the importance and significance of teacher education. Based on the Education Commission’s recommendation, the non-statutory National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) was formed in 1973. Given statutory status in 1992, it was meant to address determination, maintenance and coordination standards; curb sub-standard institutions; promote experimentation, innovation and research; establish a suitable system for continuing education of teachers and teacher-educators, and reduce the supply-demand gap of trained teachers.

After nearly 15 years, following various complaints the Government of India constituted a committee to review the NCTE’s functioning. Sudeep Banerjee, former Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, was the chairman, and there were three other members.

The committee reported in 2007 that there was lack of planning, coordination and monitoring of academic activities on the part of the NCTE. It had neglected areas like planned development, academic research and innovation, interventions in the form of surveys, workshops and interactions. A rich legacy of practices including innovations from the pre-Independence era in various institutions had not inspired or influenced the curriculum, syllabi and teaching learning transaction prescribed by the NCTE. Most of the training programmes were not organised according to the needs of teachers. Innovative programmes faced difficulties with respect to obtaining NCTE approval. The NCTE had not developed an appropriate database on the availability of teachers. It had acted merely as a regulatory authority, without vision or innovation. It had defined regulations in a narrow technical manner against the expectation that it would propagate innovative activity. It took an application-based approach rather than a holistic view. It made universities play a subordinate role.

The NCTE failed to persuade some States to open institutions even to meet the demand for teachers arising out of the annual retrial vacancies. This resulted in the appointment of untrained teachers on short-term contracts with low wages without following the norms.

Concerns expressed by some States regarding unbridled and unchecked proliferation of private teacher education institution were ignored. In view of the new developments in the field of elementary and secondary education with the very approach to education having undergone qualitative and quantitative changes, the committee felt that regulation in the context of any area of welfare and development must be perceived not merely in terms of infrastructure or technical qualifications of faculty but also in terms of promoting a participative vision of education consistent with the directions of national development. It underlined the need for a new vision for teacher education, a paradigm shift from a regulatory to a developmental approach.

The committee recommended that the NCTE Act 1993 be repealed and that regulatory functions relating to teacher education and teacher education institutions for all stages be democratically decentralised, vesting these with universities. In 2007, the regional offices of the NCTE in Bangalore and Mumbai were reviewed by two different committees. The committee which inspected the Bangalore office pointed out that the Southern Regional Committee (SRC) had shown scant regard for rules and regulations. The Chairman of the SRC (2006-2008) and a member had neither the standing nor the required academic background. They did not have experience in teacher education. Files were lost and budgetary control had been given up.

The committee which inspected the Mumbai office found that the work processes there were ad hoc and arbitrary. An effective vertical line of control and systems of operation were absent, and this left scope for manipulation and misuse. Some of the inspection team members were not aware of the NCTE regulations or overlooked critical aspects.

In the northern region, the Regional Director’s house was raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation for having amassed assets disproportionate to his income. The official was running three B. Ed. colleges and an engineering college.

In the eastern region, the regional office had granted approval to about 100 institutions with retrospective effect. This was done on the strength of amendments to the provisions of the Act by way of an Ordinance, which was not placed before Parliament for ratification, leaving the validity of the approval granted in doubt.

Teacher education and that too in the universities cannot be regulated by the NCTE. The Government of India should either repeal the NCTE Act, as promised in the Rajya Sabha, or supersede the Council under Section 30 of the NCTE Act. Or, in order to maintain the dignity of the universities, it should issue a clarification that universities do not come under the purview of the NCTE under Section 29 of the NCTE Act.

(The writer is Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA University, Thanjavur)

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