Teacher education as a domain has been evolving since the inception of the modern school system. From the one-year training programme to the diploma courses in the 1980s and 90s (after the establishment of DIET and SCERT), or the integrated B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. programme that started in the 1960s, or the Bachelor of Elementary Education (B.El.Ed.) programme of the 1990s, teacher education has been evolving rapidly (Menon, Sharma & Chennat, 2011, p. 6). These programmes are offered largely by private institutions where quality issues are acute (Sharma, 2021, p. 3). These quality issues have been taken up in the national education policies (NEPs) of India, including NEP 2020, which acknowledges the gaping holes in the present teacher education programmes and proposes a new 4-year Integrated Teacher Education Programme (ITEP) that will change the way teacher education functions now. While this recommendation of the National Education Policy 2020 is being seen as novel, there are at least two other teacher education programmes of 4-year duration each, which have been offered for several decades now. These are the B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. programme of the Regional Institutes of Education and the B.El.Ed. programme of Delhi University. So, what makes this new 4-year ITEP different from the already existing 4-year programmes, and how these programmes are rendered in the regulation of the National Council for Teacher Education is a matter of concern among the practitioners and aspirants of teacher education.
Purpose of NCTE and its regulations
The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is a policy making, advisory and standard establishing body for teacher education institutions. It got its statutory status in 1993 after the recommendation of the National Policy of Education, 1986 (Menon, Sharma & Chennat, 2011, p. 8). NCTE has laid down different regulations and norms for different teacher education programmes on its official website. So, if any institution aims to start any of these teacher education programmes, it has to apply for recognition to NCTE and fulfil the norms and standards prescribed in the regulations of the programme. The purpose of these regulations is to maintain minimum quality standards for different teacher education programmes. However, the concept, rationale and effectiveness of these regulatory norms and standards have been under question for some time now (Sharma, 2021, p. 4). From all the regulations that the NCTE’s website has released for different teacher education programmes, there are three different regulations for the three 4-year teacher education programmes which we will discuss here.
Variations and politics in the regulatory reforms
The 4-year integrated programmes, B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. and Bachelor of Elementary Education (B.El.Ed.), have been in existence from the 1960s and 1990s respectively. Delhi University, through its affiliated liberal colleges, offers a 4-year integrated programme for elementary school teachers to secondary school graduates (B.El.Ed.) (Menon & Mathew, 2016, p.152); it is functional in eight colleges of the Delhi University. Later (in 2003), this programme was also started in Amity University, a private university in Noida. B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. is being offered by the Regional Institutes of Education governed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and a few other universities again to secondary school graduates (Menon & Mathew, 2016, p.152 & Menon, Sharma & Chennat, 2011, p. 10). Both programmes focus on the integration of different domains in teacher education, but the orientation in which the NCTE regulations views them is contrasting and ambiguous.
Both teacher education programmes have been functioning for decades but the regulations for these programmes came much later. For the B.El.Ed. programme the first regulation was announced by the NCTE in 2005 (the second set of regulations came in 2014) and for the B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. programme the regulations came in 2014 after the Justice Verma Commission report of 2012 (Sharma, 2021, 4). In 2019, another set of regulations came for a new 4-year teacher education course called the Integrated Teacher Education Programme (ITEP).
The regulations for B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. (2014) and ITEP (2019) say that the location of these teacher education programmes needs to be in multi and interdisciplinary academic environment and puts forth this clause in section 1.2 as:
“The ITEP shall be located in multi and inter disciplinary academic environment which means a duly recognised higher education institute offering under graduate or post graduate programmes of study in the field of liberal arts or humanities or social science or commerce or mathematics as the case may be.” (National Council for Teacher Education Amendment Regulations, 2019, p. 49)
These three models of 4-year programmes are different in terms of the school stages they target. Apart from this one thing, it is difficult to distinguish these programmes on any other level as the integrated liberal and professional components are central to all three teacher education programmes. The Justice Verma Commission gave importance to a multi-disciplinary environment since this kind of academic environment would enable access to infrastructure and resources of other disciplines to student teachers (Srinivasan, 2015, p. 23). But looking at the clause of location in the ITEP regulations, one observes that even those universities that do not have a multi-disciplinary environment to offer can teach the course.
When it comes to the duration of these programmes, though all of these are 4-year teacher education programmes, the number of working days differ. For B.El.Ed. it is 200 working days, for B.A./ B.Sc. B.Ed. it is 250 days and for ITEP it is 125 days. One of JVC’s recommendations also talks about the importance of the duration of teacher education programmes to ensure quality and rigour, however, looking at the reduction in the number of working days for ITEP one has to question the intention behind this reduction in the number of working days. The curriculum for this integrated programme has not changed, it is the same as that of the B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. Thus, the quality of the programme will certainly be affected because now the same curriculum that was being covered in 200 days will have to be covered in 125 days.
The curriculum of B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. and B.El.Ed. has been mentioned in great detail in the regulations of 2014. The B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. programme focuses on preparing teachers for upper primary and secondary stages of education, whereas the B.El.Ed. focuses on preparing teachers for elementary stages of education and that is the reason the curriculum for both these programmes differs; the latter also has components of pedagogic approaches in language, mathematics and environmental studies for classes 1 to 5 and includes storytelling and children’s literature. The rest of the components in both these teacher education programmes are largely similar or even same including the names of the courses.
For faculty appointment, the regulations have laid down criteria in terms of the required qualification to teach the different courses. One interesting omission from the ITEP regulation is that those who have done M.A. Education cannot teach a course in the ITEP. In the B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed. regulations, the foundation courses can be taught by anyone who has done post-graduation in social science along with M.Ed. or by anyone with an M.A. in Education and B.Ed. In the 2019 regulations for ITEP, M.Ed. has been made mandatory and M.A. Education does not find any mention. To teach the foundation courses in the B.El.Ed. programme also one either needs a post-graduation in social science/ humanities/ science/ mathematics/ language along with M.Ed. or a Masters in philosophy, sociology or psychology along with B.El.Ed. or B.Ed. For ITEP only those with an M.Ed. or an equivalent degree and qualified UGC-NET or PhD can teach the foundation courses. But what does an ‘equivalent degree’ mean? Will an M.A. in Education or a Masters in Elementary Education (M.El.Ed.) be considered an equivalent degree? It is all vague and hazy.
The regulations of NCTE for different teacher education programmes show that they are governed by prescriptive and politically complex ethos (Sharma, 2021, p. 3). The autonomy of the institutions is also being put at stake by the prescriptive nature of the NCTE regulations in terms of the weightage of courses, course titles, qualification of teachers, etc. (Sharma, 2019) The domain of education is applied in nature, i.e., it is based on achieving better practice (Sarangapani, 2011, p. 73) and one can see this in the NCTE regulations as well. Padma Sarangapani in her paper refers to a study conducted by J G Donald, professor, Centre for University Teaching and Learning, McGill University, and says that ‘expertise’ is the term that was used to describe the ability to function as a discipline or not (p. 74) but when it comes to ‘teacher education’ the indicator of ‘expertise’ is seen as missing and this can be seen as the reason why teachers do not get the respect (Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2020, p. 20) that people from other disciplines get. Due to lack of strong classification (Bernstein, 1973, p. 49) in education it is believed that everyone can be a teacher and any private institute, be it multi-disciplinary or not can start different teacher education programmes since the domain itself is seen to be very ‘easy’ in nature (Sarangapani, 2011, p. 73). All these assumptions about education and teacher education get conveyed even by the NCTE regulations which are highly political and support the commercial interest in the domain in the most unsaid ways. Though NEP 2020 talks about change in teacher education via ITEP, what will happen in the future is yet to be witnessed.
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- Ministry of Human Resource Development (2012). Vision of Teacher Education in India: Quality and Regulatory Perspective, Report of the High-Powered Commission on Teacher Education constituted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India” (Chairperson: Justice Verma), New Delhi: Ministry of Human Resource Development.
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- NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education). (2014, November 28). NCTE (Recognition Norms and Procedures) Regulations, 2014.
- NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education). (2019, April 2). NCTE (Recognition Norms and Procedures) Regulations, 2019: Norms and Standards for Four Years Integrated Teacher Education Programme.
- Sarangapani, P. (2011). Soft Disciplines and Hard Battles. Contemporary Education Dialogue, Vol 8, No. 1, pp 67-84.
- Sharma, G. (2019, 2 March). Policy and Regulatory Changes in Teacher Education in India: Concerns, Debates and Contestations. Economic & Political Weekly Engage, Vol 54, Issue No. 9.
- Sharma, G. (2021). Policy and regulatory reforms in teacher education in India. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Retrieved 5 Jun. 2021, from https://oxfordre.com/education/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264093-e-1665.
- Srinivasan, S. (2015). Revamping Teacher Education, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 50, Issue No. 35.
The author is a trained educator and has experience in teaching children, educational research and analyzing the field of education and teacher education from the lens of caste, gender and sexuality. He can be reached at [email protected].