Teacher's education: Courses, levels, challenging roles!
Nimesh Chandra, 18 Jan 2014

TEACHER's Education in India has seen a gradual growth trajectory. With the creation of an independent nation in 1947, Prime Minister Nehru’s vision about temples of modern India included good educational institutions as well. This resulted in setting up of a range of educational institutions including schools and teacher training institutions.

Banking on the colonial legacy of the British system of teacher education already in place, the policy makers had a tough challenge on their hands. They had to first look at the phase-wise expansion of pre-service teacher education and then plan out the setting up of new institutions, not to mention the creation of an infrastructure to oversee the functioning of these institutions.

According to a study by NCTE (Critique, Dimensions and Issues in Teacher Education), from a meagre 10 secondary teacher training institutions in 1948, the number increased to 50 in 1965 and 633 by 1995. As on March 31, 2010, the total number of institutes imparting all kinds of teacher education programmes came to 11,712. 




Pre-Primary & Elementary

  • This is meant for teachers who are able to effectively teach children who are in their formative years so that they have a positive influence on them. While the Pre-primary course prepares pre-school teachers for teaching children in the age group of 4-6 years, the elementary course is meant for preparing teachers for primary and upper primary/middle schools.


  • The Nursery Teacher Education (NTT) is also on the same lines, for teaching in pre-school stage for children in the age group of 4-6 years followed by 2 years of formal school (6-8 years).


  • The B.Elementary Education course is designed for determination and maintenance of standards of teacher education, including preparation for pre-primary, primary, secondary and senior secondary stages of school education. There are also various distance learning (DL) courses that give Diploma/PG Diploma.


B Ed


  • The Bachelor of Education course is meant for preparing teachers for secondary/senior secondary schools and aims at providing the necessary knowledge and skills for teaching at school level.


  • The BEd (Secondary) regular course aims to make the teachers recognise the diverse potentialities to learn things that exist amongst students and teach accordingly.


  • The tools used range from verbal to non-verbal to media communication, apart for practical work done in schools (this at the moment is reserved for once a week).


  • BEd (Distance Learning) is quite popular and many students wish to pursue this while continuing with their jobs. DL is offered only by the Open Universities or Directorates of Distance/Correspondence Education of the Universities. A new programme, the BEd Special Education Distance Education, offered jointly by MP Bhoj Open University and Rehabilitation Council of India, aims to teach mechanisms that work effectively for the differently-abled.




  • This may be general or specialised, and it is meant for candidates desirous of pursuing PG in teacher education on full-time basis and for preparing a professional cadre of teacher educators.


  • The MEd course is a PG degree that can be earned either through regular or DL mode. The latter, which is a flexible mode of learning provides an opportunity, preferably to serving teachers/teacher educators and educational administrators, to pursue MEd for professional development.


Physical Education


  • The physical education programme aims at developing concepts of physical fitness. The various physical education courses are BPEd, MPEd, Certificate and Diploma in Physical Education (DPEd).

The system of schools
With India committed to the goal of universal elementary education for all children, many steps have been taken to achieve it. The implementation of Right to Education (RTE), opening of new schools and host of programmes and initiatives have contributed to the improvement in the gross enrolment ratio. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) or ‘education for all’ movement is the flagship programme that is being implemented in partnership with the State governments to address the needs of 192 million children in 1.1 million habitations (MHRD, Annual Report 2010-11).

As per the road map of RTE, training to untrained teachers has to be given in five years (i.e. upto 31st March 2015). Another crucial indicator in terms of gauging the effectiveness of teaching is the pupil to teacher ratio (PTR). In 2008-09, the PTR at the national level was 44:1 for primary and 34:1 for upper primary level. According to MHRD 11.13 lakh teachers have been recruited by December 2010 since the launch of SSA scheme in 2000. In 2010-11, 39.48 lakh teachers were approved for in-service training under the SSA.

Similarly for secondary education, the government announced the ‘Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan’ in March 2009 that envisages achieving an enrolment rate of 75 percent in 5 years. It is in the system of secondary education, particularly in schools that are governed by the Central government, that Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNV) play an integral role.

While there are 1085 KVs including three in foreign countries; the total of JNVs add to more than 550 that primarily impart quality modern education to the talented rural children, irrespective of their socio-economic background. In addition to schools run by the State governments, there are schools that are partially aided by State or central governments and thousands of schools that are in the private sector.

The Indian school education system is largely governed by various bodies. These include the State government boards, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, National Institute of Open Schooling, International schools that are affiliated to the International Baccalaureate Programme and/or the Cambridge International examinations, Islamic Madrasa school boards and autonomous/alternative schools. The CBSE has steadily increased its school count from 309 schools in 1962 to 11,922 schools as per CBSE website accessed on August 4, 2011. In a country where a sizeable population lives in rural areas (68.8 percent as per 2011 Census of India), there has been much focus on schools in those areas. 
Teacher’s training
There are two important documents that have significantly influenced the process of teacher education in the country: the report of Education Commission (1964-66), and the National Policy on Education 1986. It is from these two, as is said, that other significant schemes and policies have stemmed out and have lead to the establishment of institutions. One such body is the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), set up in 1995, for development of teacher education in India. It is responsible for maintaining the norms and standards in teacher education system at different levels of school system.

With the enforcement of RTE Act in 2009, the NCTE estimates that close to 10 lakh teachers would be needed across the country to keep the elementary school system running. This thus translates into their training needs. In KVs, there are 5 zonal institutes of educational training at Mumbai, Gwalior, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Mysore that impart training to KV teachers in their specific regions.

Similarly Navodaya Samiti has 5 National Learning Institutes in different parts of the country with 7 more in the pipeline. Though the annual training calendar in the government training institutes is usually packed, with many teachers awaiting their turn, there is a system in place. But what is disturbing is the lack of training facility for private school teachers who often teach without getting in-service training for years together. It is in this aspect also that the government has initiated a teacher’s eligibility test.

The role of a teacher
Education of teachers in the country has been considered crucial, not only for ensuring greater professionalism in teachers but also for facilitating improvement and effectiveness of schools. According to Shulman (Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of New Reforms, published in Harvard Educational Review, 1987), a teacher should possess subject content knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, and the knowledge of educational contexts and goals; and should be able to use this knowledge creatively to deal with ever changing classroom situations.

In the present time, teacher education has gained visibility as a well-differentiated network of institutional programmes and categories meant for different groups of educational functionaries. It is in this context that teacher education has become institutionalised. 
The key issues
Though the quality of pedagogical inputs in various teacher education courses that serve the purpose of nurturing prospective teachers depends largely on the professional competence of teacher educators and the way in which it is imparted; a lot is also dependent on the responsiveness and interest of the teachers-in-the-making. As the common understanding goes, anyone with a BEd degree is considered qualified to become a teacher educator for elementary stage teacher education, and anyone with a higher degree in education (say MEd) is deemed fit to become a teacher educator in a secondary teacher education institute.

However, contrary to this understanding are the views of several critics who argue that learning to become a good teacher and actually teaching effectively does not mean that one has also learnt how others can be helped or trained to be effective teachers. Though newer programmes of teacher education have continually evolved, with substantive and curricular streamlining; it is a continuous process to accommodate the changes in teaching practices. It is in this regard that a national framework for teacher education has been put in place.  

The National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCFTE) aims at improving the quality of teacher education by addressing the prevalent concerns as they exist today, bring in key changes, so as to reorient teaching that emphasizes on activities, discovery and exploration of environment and surroundings. The aim is to have inclusive education that also makes use of information and communication technology and e-learning tools.

In the recent past, the epistemology of learning has seen a sea change. Emphasis has now shifted towards constructivist approach of learning and one witnesses that learning does not involve discovering the reality, but constructing the reality. The guiding principle of the National curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF 2005) developed by NCERT, is based on the notion that learning is fundamental to a learner’s physical, social, and cultural context. The NCF 2005 expects a teacher to be the facilitator of students’ learning in a manner that helps them to construct knowledge and meaning which eventually utilises their individual experiences. The NCFTE 2009 developed by NCTE attempts to reorient teacher education courses. The idea is to align them with the epistemological shift envisaged in NCF 2005 and develop teachers as facilitators of learning.
The key concerns
Teacher education programmes in certain parts of the country continue to prescribe traditional approach of psychological, philosophical and sociological basis of education instead of focusing on the approach of how the knowledge of these cognate disciplines can be related to understanding the way students learn. Thus there is still a need for reorientation of teacher educators in the emerging pedagogy, who are trained in conventional methods.  

Another concern is the need of longer duration of teacher education courses for ensuring professionalism. For instance, the general consensus developed for the duration of BEd course has been that of two years and though the framework of teacher education (2009) recommends two years of teacher preparation programme, the course structure developed by NCTE for BEd course is only for one year.

Photo%20of%20Shri%20Manoj%20SinghInterview with Manoj Singh, Commissioner, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti

There are over 550 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas with over 2.1 lakh students and 11,000 teachers across India with a unique system of schooling children who get admitted in class VI.


Q: What is the role of a teacher in the present day?

A: With the introduction of the comprehensive and continuous system of evaluation, the whole paradigm of teaching has changed. The emphasis has shifted from the teacher to the learner. We must have a learning system that is participatory and interactive. One has to simply expose the child to the topic so that it is understood from their own perspective. Let them make a mind-map of the issue. Learning should be made enjoyable and should go in the long-term memory of the student, it should not be a terror.

Even complex topics are now being demystified and explained in a very interesting manner. One must make use of technology to facilitate teaching. The concept of e-learning is crucial where more knowledge exchange is possible. It is now possible that best lectures of the best teachers are recorded and disseminated across the schools.


Q: How has NVS used technology to its advantage?

A: NVS has started two things: one is creation of infrastructure for e-learning. We are investing money for a dedicated optic fibre services line from BSNL in order to make all schools campuses wi-fi. Since the schools are in remote areas, access is a priority. Then we are thinking of converting classrooms into smart classrooms.

Secondly, we are emphasising on teacher’s role. The NVS teachers should be exposed to what is going around in the contemporary domain. What we do is, we identify 3 best teachers in each discipline who pick topics (syllabus-wise), prepare notes and collate in such a manner that the best material is prepared and is made available on the net. We also understand that the present teaching style has to change, hence we are going for large-scale training such that we are involved in reinventing teaching methods (there are 7 National Learning institutes for the purpose). We are ensuring that no segment of Navodaya is deprived of training. These NLIs are not restricted to Navodaya community but open to all who are in need.


Q: How do JNVs stand apart?

A: The philosophy of Navodaya Vidyalaya is to set the pace of education in the district and thus in the country. Our students are one of the best students and our method of teaching and ambience of a residential school cater to that. JNV is like a Gurukul system where a teacher is available 24x7. 74% of students in JNV come from a family background where the income is Rs. 150 per day. We give them food and also groom their personality. The NVS system is such that if the govt. spends Rs. 100 on a Vidyalaya, the society gets a benefit of Rs. 500 or more.

The past results of class X and XII also show that JNV top the list among all school systems. There were over 5,000 engineers and doctors who got selected from JNV that included 142 in IITs and 22 in IAS and IPS. This year too 135 students made it to IIT. There are many philanthropic organisations that are joining hands in coaching our students, that too free of cost. 


All India status of recognition of teacher education programmes (as on March 31, 2010)


Total no. of institutes (2010) 11712

Teacher Education Course

Total No. of Courses Recognised

% of total courses

Total Intake approved

% of total intake











B.Elementary Education





BEd (Secondary), Regular





BEd (Secondary), DL





MEd, Regular










MEd (Part-time)


































Duration (Intake)

Key Eligibility



One academic year (50)

Secondary Examination (Class X) or its equivalent

Either on the basis of marks in qualifying exam or in entrance exam conducted by State governments


Two academic years (50)

At least 45% marks in the senior secondary examination (+2), or its equivalent

Admissions are either on the basis of marks obtained in the qualifying exam or in the entrance exam conducted by the State Government

B.Elementary Education

Four academic years + 16-week internship

Have to qualify in the prescribed Centralised Entrance Test (CET)

(i) Pass in the 10+2 or equivalent with a minimum aggregate of 50% (ii) Must have completed 17 years on or before the commencement of admission

BEd (Secondary), Regular

One academic year (100)

At least 45% marks in the Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree

Admissions are either on the basis of marks obtained in the qualifying exam or in the entrance exam conducted by University/State Governments

BEd (Secondary), Distance Learning

2 years (500, which can go up to 1000)

Teachers serving in a recognised school with a Bachelor’s degree and having at least 2 years experience are eligible

Each University has to admit only those candidates who are working in schools located in the territorial jurisdiction assigned to it by the University Act. University develops a suitable procedure for selection

MEd, Regular

One academic year (40)

At least 55% in the BEd Degree

Either on the basis of marks obtained in the
qualifying exam or in the entrance exam

MEd, Distance Learning

Two academic years (150)

BEd or equivalent degree with 55%

University develops its own procedure for selection

MEd, (Part-time)

Two academic years (40)

At least two years of teaching/administrative experience, and at least 55% in BEd Degree

Only University Dept. of Education and Institutes of Advanced Studies in Education, which run MEd
programme, are eligible to offer MEd (Part-time)


Two academic years (50)

At least 45% marks in 10+2 or equivalent. For State/National level sportspersons min. is 40% in 10+2

Either on basis of marks in qualifying exam or in entrance exam conducted by State Government, with due weightage for physical fitness/proficiency


At least one academic year (50)

Graduate in Physical Education Or Graduate having represented State/University in sports/games

Either on basis of marks in the qualifying exam or in entrance exam conducted by University/State Govt. with due weightage for physical fitness/proficiency


Two academic years (30)

BPEd with at least 50% marks or BPE. (3 years) with at least 50%

Either on the basis of marks obtained in the
qualifying exam or in the entrance exam

Nursery Teacher Education

Two academic years (50)

45% in Senior Secondary Examination (Class XII or its equivalent)

Either on basis of marks in the qualifying exam or in the entrance exam conducted by State government

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