NCERT Review of Teacher Education in India

I have no words to describe the contents of this report, Comprehensive Evaluation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Restructuring and Reorganization of Teacher Education, NCERT, 2009. It is a must read for those involved in Teacher Education in India.

The Scheme was initiated in the 8th 5-year Plan for India (1992-97). It was from this plan that District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), Institutes of Advanced Studies in Education (IASEs) and Colleges of Teacher Education (CTEs) and later, Block Resource Centres (BRCs) and Cluster Resource Centres (CRCs) were established. Currently, 571 DIETs, 104 CTEs and 31 IASEs have been sanctioned (most have been funded). The report reviews the impact and functioning of these entities, particularly in the context of the State Councils of Education Research and Training (SCERT).

The report has to be seen in context of the current developments as well. The focus on the Right to Education, the growing numbers of students from Grade 1-8 (195 million), the current imperatives of teacher education, the state of the economy and pubic attitude towards education, are all factors that need to be kept in mind.

The report sampled 61 DIETs, 45 CTEs, 22 IASEs and 24 SCERTs on various parameters:

  • availability, adequacy and utilization of physical infrastructure and staff,
  • pre-service, in-service programmes, research, innovation, development and extension activities,
  • adequacy and utilization of financial assistance (central and state)
  • monitoring and evaluation procedures followed for ensuring efficiency and
  • effectiveness of the institution and networking with national, regional, state, district and sub-district level institutions/organization involved in school education and teacher education.

The report outlines a grim story. My key takeaways:

  1. The Scheme has been unevenly implemented across various states of India
  2. There have been funding anomalies (in terms of money reaching the need on time and in full)
  3. Lack of adequate physical infrastructure and learning conditions
  4. Weak inter-institutional linkages
  5. Lack of proper direction by SCERTs
  6. Almost negligible effort at building capacity and leadership capability
  7. Huge shortage of skilled professionals
  8. Inimical/low pay structures and lack of status a big deterrent and demotivating factor in this sector
  9. Lack of appreciation of institutional role in the employees and leadership
  10. Extremely deficient implementation of NCF 2005 , the guiding light of Indian Education
  11. No consistent or widespread internal monitoring or performance measures
  12. Multiple authorities to listen to

Largely speaking (and there are exceptions), real aims (as I see them) have been impacted. Creation of content, research, teacher training, leadership development and other important imperatives have largely been left as expert words on policy and vision documents.

The reality is that we are an under-staffed and under-funded, not very competent, confused and over bureaucratic bunch of people in teacher education today. The report ends with recommendations that are true to form (my take):

  • Consolidate under one authority, but decentralize responsibilities
  • Strengthen existing institutions, and create some more institutions (BITEs – Block level IETs)
  • Absolve responsibility by asking NGOs who are doing “innovative work” to take up training
  • Increase funding, number of employees and scale/coverage/quality of training, by essentially reiterating the objectives with which the scheme was designed in the first place

The report is a must read – all 114 pages of it – for all those who are interested in transforming the educational system. Start with teachers. They are your best bet in our context.

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