The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teacher council on chopping board

New Delhi, June 6: The government has decided to wind up the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) in an attempt to do away with apex bodies that are allowing substandard educational institutions to come up.

Technical institutions that have mushroomed in the last decade are already under the scanner. Now it is the turn of teacher training institutions which lack necessary infrastructure or academic competence to face the music.

The NCTE, which monitors teacher training institutions, is the first apex body to get the axe. Set up as a statutory body through an act in 1993, the council’s objective was to upgrade teachers’ education to professional standards.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) could be next in line, sources in the human resource development ministry said. The National Knowledge Commission, in a note to the Prime Minister, has recommended limiting the powers of, if not winding up, the two organisations.

A report prepared by a committee headed by former HRD secretary Sudeep Bannerjee has prompted the government to wind up the NCTE. The committee found it guilty of allowing ill-equipped teacher training institutions to come up.

The NCTE was also charged with regional bias. States like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka have a surfeit of teacher training institutions unlike Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand.

The NCTE is in charge of 7,000 teacher training institutions. In its absence, the institutions will have to seek affiliation with central, state and deemed universities. The universities will then be responsible for the quality of the institutions.

The government’s decision to do away with the NCTE has upset some policymakers who believe the Centre is taking an easy way out. According to them, the government should revamp the council instead of winding it up.

However, they agree the NCTE has lost “credibility”.

“The recent loss of credibility of the NCTE is an undisputed fact. Decisions taken by the NCTE have been found to be chaotic. There are corruption charges,” said former NCTE head J.S. Rajput, who has also headed the National Council of Educational Research and Training.

He, however, added that the government could have stepped in to stem the malfunctioning.

The AICTE, which monitors technical institutions, has also been accused of corruption and regional bias. Southern states have a rash of new technical institutions, often with the help of alleged political patronage, while the east has got stepmotherly treatment.

It has been facing the heat since 2005, when the Centre launched an operation to rid the country of substandard institutions.

The National Knowledge Commission has suggested replacing the UGC with a body of “good” professionals. “There is a need to establish an independent regulatory authority for higher education. Such a regulatory body is both necessary and desirable,” the commission said.

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