Improving India’s Teacher Education System - Presently India is going through a learning crisis. An assessment of the quality of teacher education tells about the crisis. 

JV’s Prelims Snippets

Teacher education in India

  • The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and its four regional committees (north, south, east and west) are responsible for teacher education in India. 
  • The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is a statutory body of Indian government set up under the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993.
  • It consists of the Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) that run bachelor of education (BEd) and diploma in education (DEd) programmes to prepare teachers, and masters in education (MEd) programmes to prepare teacher educators.
  • Its main objective is to achieve planned and coordinated development of teacher education through the development and implementation of Regulations (Norms and Standards) for teacher education institutions seeking recognition for starting teacher preparation programmes.

Constitutional and legal provisions

  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE): RTE is meant to operationalise Article 21A of the Constitution of India that makes elementary education a justiciable right of the children of ages 6 to 14 years.
  • The National Curriculum Framework 2005 (NCF) (National Council for Educational Research and Training, 2005): NCF 2005 outlines the constituents of “quality” of the educational/curricular experience that elementary schools should provide.

The learning crisis in India

  • Annual Status of Education Reports (ASER) released by NGO Pratham found that nearly half of class 5 children cannot read a class 2 text. 
  • Despite 97% enrolment in primary schools, drop out rates are high and quality of education poor.
  • Only around 30% of children enrolling in class 1 graduate from class 12. 
  • A majority do not possess the requisite skills to be readily employable.
  • Teachers themselves struggle with subject knowledge and the ability to teach it. 
  • The curriculum lacks relevance, particularly at the secondary level.
  • Almost half of the children in grade 5 in rural India cannot solve a simple two-digit subtraction problem.
  • 67 per cent of children in grade 8 in public schools score less than 50 per cent in competency-based assessments in mathematics.


  • There has been a massive rise in the social and economic aspirations leading to a multifold increase in the demand for education across the unequal social fabric of India. 
  • There has thus been expansion and diversification of education at all levels accompanied with concerns about “quality” of and “equity” in education across levels (especially at the school level).
  • India today suffers from the twin challenges of unviable sub-scale schools and a severe shortage of teachers.


The weak and corrupt teacher Education system is at the core of India’s problems in school education.

  • The poor performance of Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs): Currently, there are about 94 lakh teachers across all schools in India. 
    • Significant teacher vacancies: India has a shortage of more than 10 lakh teachers. Existing ones are poorly distributed. It is not uncommon to find several surplus teachers in an urban school while a single teacher may manage 100-plus students in a rural school.
    • Commercialization: Teacher education is “predominantly in the private sector, accounting for about 92 per cent each of teacher education institutions and student intake. 
    • They are also producing poor-quality teachers
    • Apart from academic work, existing teachers are also engaged in managing midday meals, conducting surveys and in administrative and election duties.
    • The pass-percentage in central teacher eligibility tests that stipulate eligibility for appointments as teachers has not exceeded 25 per cent in recent years. 
  • Disparities across regions and programmes offered
    • Approximately half of the total TEIs are in the northern region with Rajasthan having the second-largest number of institutes. 
    • Poor planning: There are about 17 recognised teacher education programmes, a majority of TEIs offer only B.Ed and D.El.Ed programmes. 
    • There is a shortage of subject-teachers in secondary schools for whom a Master of Education (M.Ed) degree is the eligibility. It is offered in less than 10 per cent of the TEIs.
    • The significant variations in the teacher education system and networks across different states makes it difficult to adopt a standard route to implement the change.
  • Inadequacies of regulation & organisational structures: The structures have failed to ensure the entry of only motivated and meritorious individuals into the teacher education space.
    • The National Council for Teacher Education Act assigns disproportionate power to the regional committees which grant programme affiliation while the Council has been rendered toothless. 
    • There is no system to assess and accredit them.
    • Poor accreditation: The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC), responsible for quality-standards in higher education, has only covered 30 per cent of all institutes since its establishment back in 1994. 
  • An outdated teacher preparation curriculum: It was last updated over a decade ago. Multiple agencies are controlling teacher education.
  • Lack of data: There is no accurate real-time database of the number and details of teacher education institutes, students enrolled and programmes offered. 
  • The upgrading of stand-alone teacher education institutions to university level has not yet been initiated as the teacher education system is networked with a variety of institutions and structures (for instance, with examination boards and teacher recruitment systems).

Judicial And govt. interventions:

  • A regulatory change emanated from the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE), 2009, and the report of the Supreme Court’s high-powered Justice Verma Commission (JVC) on teacher education in 2012.
  • Justice Verma Commission (JVC) Report was set up by the Supreme Court in view of the case regarding granting of recognition to 291 private teacher education colleges in Maharashtra for improving the regulatory functions of the NCTE.
  • After the submission of the JVC Report and action plan, NCTE brought Regulations (Norms and Standards), 2014. 
  • The qualification rate of 2-8%, through the Teacher Eligibility Tests, started a few years ago in an effort to insulate the schools from the devastating effects of this system, correspond to these estimates. Only those who qualify can become teachers in public schools.

Way Forward

NCFTE and JVC Report focused on revamping of teacher education in the country to reform teaching-learning in schools.

  • Building credible data: Such data could be used to create a comprehensive plan for the sector, devising the optimal number of TEIs, their regional spread and programme-wise intake. 
  • Reformulation of the regulatory mechanism:  JVC recommended amendments in the NCTE Act, 1983, establishing a vigilance cell within NCTE, tenure of the chairperson and appointment of the NCTE Council, and changing the norms and standards. 
  • Upgrading teacher education programmes: JVC and NCFTE both recommended teacher education (especially elementary level) be upgraded to the level of degree programmes as against largely being offered through diploma programmes.
  • Increased duration of teacher education programmes: JVC recommends two-year Master of Education programmes. While the NCFTE recommends 
  1. Two-year second bachelor’s degree for initial teacher preparation at the elementary and secondary school levels; and 
  2. Four-year (or longer) integrated first bachelors model for both the levels
  3. Sandwiched postgraduate courses of three years’ duration towards developing a specialised cadre of senior secondary school teachers and teacher educators.
  • An accurate system of assessment and accreditation must be developed to ensure weeding out substandard TEIs and propelling quality improvements in the rest.
    • A common accreditation framework should be designed through a consultative process including all relevant stakeholders to facilitate its wider acceptability. 
  • Improving the quality of the curriculum by mixing curricular inputs and good-quality pedagogy:
    • NCFTE recommendations: The main principles of curriculum reforms that were proposed included the following: 
  1. A holistic approach to the curriculum
  2. Emphasis on engagement with theory and foundational perspectives on education
  3. Preparation for future teachers to be reflective, humane and professional practitioners
  4. Longer and intense internship/school experience; 
  5. Preparing would-be teachers to organise teaching-learning in a child-centred manner; 
  6. Stage specificity in training for various school levels; and 
  7. Location of teacher education programmes in an interdisciplinary environment
  • There should be an integrated four-year subject-specific programme to be housed in multidisciplinary colleges and universities.
  • Then India can also outsource it is surplus high-quality teachers to over 70 countries that face a teacher shortage.

Also read: Minority Educational Rights

Cultural And Educational Rights