B.Ed has become a degree for marriage, not teaching. That must change: NCTE chairperson

To weed out and shut down poor quality teacher education institutions — which have six times more capacity than needed — the National Council for Teacher Education is conducting the first-ever performance appraisals of the 19,000 institutions it oversees.

“The B.Ed has become a degree for marriage, not teaching. That must change…Our agenda is to close down the bad colleges,” NCTE chairperson Satbir Bedi told The Hindu this week.

With about 100 seats each, the teacher education institutions potentially produce 19 lakh graduates per year. At the recommended teacher-student ratio of 1:27, the country’s 26 crore students need only 90 lakh teachers overall. If each teacher serves about 30 years, the annual turnover — and need for new teaching candidates — is only about three lakh, said Dr. Bedi. Even leaving aside the spurious, fly-by-night institutions and graduates who obtain B.Ed degrees without attending any class and with no intention of ever becoming a teacher, there are simply too many graduates seeking too few jobs.

“Even if we close down 10,000 institutions, we would still be oversubscribed by three times,” noted Dr. Bedi. “This oversupply is the main reason for derogation of the teaching profession. That’s why they get away with paying ₹2,000-3,000 per month for a teacher who is supposed to be a leader, a motivator, a counsellor to a generation of children.”

The NCTE hopes to complete its performance appraisal process and weed out the worst institutions before the next academic year brings in a fresh set of candidates. More than just repairing a broken system, however, the Council wants to start aspirational new initiatives, including 700 model institutions (at least one per district), a new leadership training programme for principals and head teachers and an experimental international teaching qualification. This would cater to the mushrooming international school market, and also potentially prepare teachers who want to take their skills abroad.

“If we can export nurses, why not teachers?” asked Dr. Bedi. “Instead of running the random B.Ed for the marriage market, if we want to do something meaningful for society, to attract good people to the sector, can’t we design a course for those who really want to teach? This is the profession on which the future depends.”

The NCTE is undergoing a brutal re-evaluation of its mission and functioning in its silver jubilee year. It’s original objectives were to craft the syllabus and curriculum of teacher training and regulate institutions under its jurisdiction, but it has been elbowed aside by other stakeholders.

“Are we serving the purpose for which we were set up? Frankly, no,” said Dr. Bedi. “We have had negligible input into curriculum over the years, because we simply did not have capacity to question NCERT. There has been a widening gap in intellectual resources between the two institutions.”

With regard to regulation, each regional headquarters and state authority decided to interpret the NCTE norms differently, with the added complication that many low-quality institutions are owned by major political players. “It has only led to a proliferation of court cases, with the tragic fallout of low quality teacher institutions,” lamented Dr. Bedi, adding that a clean-up is long overdue.

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