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Education: Educating the Teacher

The human resources development ministry last June made moves to close down the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), the nodal agency that regulates and monitors every aspect of teacher education across the country. The decision was made following the suggestions of the three-member Sudeep Banerjee Committee that noted, among other issues, that the NCTE had become more an agency sanctioning institutions and fostering privatisation in teacher education than carrying out its mandate of monitoring and setting quality standards. There had also been complaints from state governments that they were rarely consulted by the NCTE in sanctioning teacher-training institutions, as well as allegations that the council presided over lop-sided development, as a result of which Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra brimmed over with teachertraining institutions while there were few such institutions in Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand.

The NCTE was set up as an advisory body in 1974 and elevated as a statutory body in 1995 as per the National Policy on Education (NPE) and the passage of the NCTE Act 1993. Its responsibility was to carry out essentially regulatory functions, ensure maintenance of standards in teacher education and prevent proliferation of substandard institutions. Before the NCTE took over as the nodal agency, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) had its own regional colleges of education for training teachers. While the bachelor’s degree in education remains primarily under university jurisdiction, diplomas in education and nursery teacher training were provided by institutions recognised by the NCTE. According to the Banerjee Committee’s recommendations, the 7,000 institutions under the NCTE will now be affiliated to university education departments so that teacher education is not disturbed. As for curricular input, the NCERT would be asked to step in.

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