The quality of education plays a pivotal role in determining the future of the country. The fulcrum of imparting good education lies with trained and expert teachers. Therefore, to keep pace with the demands of good education and consistent with the quality of education provided worldwide, the Parliament enacted the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993.
The Act aspires to organise coordinated training programs for the teachers by setting up national uniform standards for the qualifications and training of teachers.
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National Council for Teacher Education Act
The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Act, 1993 was enacted to ensure coordinated training and development of teachers throughout the country. The Act envisaged the setting up a National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), a statutory body of the Indian Government. The Act further empowered the NCTE to improve the teacher education system qualitatively.
History of the National Council for Teacher Education Act
The National Council for Teacher Education was set up by the Union Government in 1973. The Act was an advisory body to make recommendations to the government on the possible steps for improving the quality of education as well as the performance of the teachers.
Subsequently, in 1986, the government developed the National Policy on Education (NPE). The NPE stipulated a statutory body overseeing teachers’ education and training standards. Therefore, to accomplish the requirements of the NPE, the government enacted the NCTE Act, 1993, which conferred a statutory status to the NCTE.
Objectives of the NCTE Act
NCTE Act includes the following as the primary objective:
- The Act aspires to facilitate the revolution of teacher education in India and enhance the quality of teaching.
- The Act works for a planned and organised improvement in teacher education and training.
- The Act enforces novel standards and norms for teacher education from preschool to postgraduate levels.
- The Act undertakes an assessment of the education system and the infrastructural development.
Composition of NCTE
The Central Government establishes the NCTE. The Council is a juristic body with perpetual succession, having its head office in New Delhi. Section 3 of the Act details the composition of the NCTE as follows:
- A Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and a Secretary appointed by the Central Government.
- Additionally, the NCTE will have the following ex-officio members:
- The Chairperson of the University Grants Commission
- The Director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training
- Director of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration
- Chairperson of Central Board of Secondary Education
- Member Secretary of All India Council for Technical Education
- Thirteen persons from among the pre-primary and primary education experts, Dean and Professors in Universities, experts in secondary education and non-formal education and experts in natural sciences, social sciences, and vocational education,
- The Central Government will appoint nine persons to represent the various states as well as three persons from primary education and secondary education teachers and recognised institutions.
- Three members of the Union Parliament. The Chairman of Rajya Sabha nominates one person, and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha nominates the remaining two persons.
Term of Office
The Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, and Member Secretary are appointed for 4 years, subject to the condition that they will vacate the office if they attain 60 years of age before the completion of the 4 years. However, the other members of the Council hold the office for 2 years.
Meetings of the Council
The NCTE has to meet at least once a year. The Chairperson presides over the NCTE meetings. In the absence of the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson presides over the meeting.
The decisions in the meetings are taken based on voting. In case of a tie in votes, the Chairperson has the casting vote.
Function of the NCTE
Section 12 of the NCTE Act lists the functions of NCTE. The NCTE has the following functions:
- To conduct surveys on teacher education.
- To monitor the education of teachers nationwide and make recommendations to the government and University Grants Commission regarding the programmes to facilitate teacher education.
- To prescribe the minimum qualifications a person must possess to be appointed a teacher.
- To lay down the guidelines regulating the tuition fees charged by educational institutions. Moreover, the Act also provides guidelines to the educational institutions concerning the instructional facilities and the teacher education programs provided by these institutions.
- Prevent commercialisation of teaching.
- Monitors and overviews the compliance of the norms and guidelines laid down by it.
Section 20 of the NCTE Act makes it obligatory for the NCTE to set up four Regional Committees including the following:
- Northern Regional Committee
- Eastern Regional Committee
- Western Regional Committee
- Southern Regional Committee
The NCTE may also establish other Regional Committee if it feels it necessary. Every Regional Committee would consist of the following:
- A member of the NCTE
- A representative from each state and Union Territory falling within the region covered by the Committee
- Individuals having special knowledge of teacher education.
NCTE will appoint one of the members of the Regional Committee as the Chairperson of the Committee. If any Regional Committee fails to discharge its functions, does not comply with the guidelines of the NCTE, or abuses its powers, NCTE may abolish the defaulting Regional Committee.
Furthermore, NCTE can appoint a member of the terminated Regional Committee as a member of the reconstituted Committee.
The Central government pays the salaries to the members of the NCTE. All funds advanced by the Union or any State governments to the NCTE are credited to a separate fund maintained by the NCTE.
The NCTE prepares its annual budget and transmits it to the Central Government. NCTE must also submit a yearly report of its activities to the Central Government. The Central Government then lays the report before both the Houses of Parliament.
The Auditor and Comptroller General of India audits the accounts of the NCTE.
Recognition of Institutions
Only the NCTE-recognised institutions can run teacher education programs. These institutions must follow the guidelines, norms, and rules laid down by the NCTE.
While extending recognition to teacher education institutions, the NCTE considers the following factors:
- NCTE prioritises institutions that provide training to teachers in technical subjects such as science and maths.
- NCTE prioritises institutions that propose to initiate courses on new emerging courses such as computer technology, and artificial intelligence.
- NCTE prioritises States with a shortage of qualified teachers and are expected to encourage setting up institutes for training teachers. Similarly, no efforts are to be made to set up these institutes in States with adequate numbers of qualified teachers.
Violations and Penalties
If any recognised institute violates the provisions of the NCTE Act, the Regional Committee will initiate proceedings against the institute. The institution would have an opportunity to be heard. After the hearing, if the Regional Committee is satisfied that the recognised institution has violated the provisions of the Act, it may withdraw the recognition of the institute.
When the recognition is withdrawn, the institution will no longer be eligible to provide teacher education programs. Appeals against the decisions of the Regional Committee can be made before the NCTE. However, the NCTE does not enjoy any plenary power except withdrawing recognition.
In College of Applied Education and Health Sciences v. National Council for Teacher Education (2022), the Delhi High Court observed that the NCTE has not been vested with any power to impose penalties. Thus, the NCTE cannot take any penal action against the recognised institution except for withdrawing recognition.
Improving the quality of education is one of the important duties of the government. The Government of India has set up the NCTE to train teachers and improve their performance.
The functioning of the NCTE directly affects the future of the country. The NCTE has considerably improved the quality of teacher education and training. In the future, pursuant to its goal of continually improving the quality of education, the NCTE must ensure that coordinated and uniform steps are taken in the development.
What happens if the NCTE fails to perform its functions?
If the NCTE fails to perform its functions or willfully defaults in fulfilling its obligations, the Central Government can supersede the authority of the Council. The Central Government will issue a show cause notice to the NCTE and demand an explanation for failing to discharge its statutory mandate.
Can NCTE supersede the functions and powers of the Regional Committees?
Although the NCTE is a superior body to the Regional Committees, it cannot extend beyond the scope of its authority and cannot supersede the functions statutorily conferred on the Regional Committees.
What is deemed recognition?
Certain institutions have 'deemed recognition' under the NCTE Act. To be eligible for deemed recognition, an institute must fulfil the following three preceding conditions:
- The institute should have offered a teacher education course during or after the academic year 2017-2018.
- The Union or state government should fund the institute.
- The institute should have sufficient finances, a library, infrastructure and other resources.
If an institute fulfils the conditions, it is conferred with unconditional deemed recognition.
When was NCTE established?
The NCTE Act was passed in 1993. Two years after the enactment of the Act, NCTE was established to formally oversee procedures and processes in the Indian education system.