Teaching India’s Teachers

I’ve worked in educational reform and development in the past, looking at inputs or workarounds to current educational systems. I’ve examined how to improve existing schools with technology, visual aids, extracurricular activities, vocational training, teacher aids, administrative improvements, and more. I’ve also worked in organizations that act outside of existing systems – hosting supplemental language, art, math, chess, sports, and even AP classes outside of school hours.

Despite all this work, I’ve rarely considered teachers in the equation. Rather, I’ve considered how to develop and retrain current teachers, but I’ve never considered how people become teachers in the first place.

Through my work at Central Square Foundation, I’ve realized that this was a huge omission. Yes, teachers can be retrained or given better tools if they are not performing well. But shouldn’t they be trained correctly and given the tools to succeed in the first place?

In India, this is not happening.

6.6 lakh graduates of Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) appeared for the recent Central Teacher Eligibility Test in India. Less than 6% of those graduates passed.

From 2004-2008, the number of TEIs quadrupled from 3,000 to 12,000 institutions. The majority of this expansion occurred through the growth of privately run institutes, which now account for 93% of total TEIs. This growth occurred without concern for projected demand for teachers. This means that, in some states like Maharashtra and Karnataka, TEIs have 4-5 times the number of seats as the demand for teachers. In contrast, the demand for teachers in Bihar is more than 30 times its current TEI capacity.

The massive growth from 2004-2008 also occurred without stringent quality standards. TEIs only require one-time recognition from the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). After that, no further accreditation is required, though the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) provides an opt-in accreditation. Only 2% of TEIs volunteer for this accreditation.

My current work at Central Square Foundation focuses on these issues. First, I’m working to develop a web portal for the collection and analysis of data from TEIs. This data can be used to assess which TEIs are performing well and which ones are inadequate. Ideally, this would then allow the Ministry to retrain or close low-quality TEIs and expand high-quality ones to better align each state’s supply of TEI seats with its demand for teachers. Second, I’m working on a study about the accreditation process for TEIs in India. After assessing the issues in the current accreditation system, the study will use case studies from India and abroad to create policy recommendations for improving TEI accreditation in India.

Teacher education is something that I never would have thought to consider, but I’m coming to like it more and more every day. There’s a steep learning curve since I’ve never learned about teacher education before. I have pages and pages of notes, with an entire section devoted to acronyms related to TEIs, to testify to this. But I’m still excited to be delving into this important and fascinating issue.


For the source of my data or for more information about TEIs in India, see CSF’s recent op-ed in the Financial Express.

Christine Garcia loves to use data-driven analysis to explore the way that NGOs and public policy can reduce poverty, increase human capital, and improve people's lives. She first became interested in development during her sophomore year in college, when she spent five months living in a shantytown in Peru. While there, she worked for the Light and Leadership Initiative, an educational nonprofit where she created math and chess programs for children. In the next two years, she furthered her love of travel and learning by studying International Relations at the London School of Economics, Gender Studies and Social Movements at the University of Hyderabad in India, and doing research on the UN's Millennium Development Goals at the Institute for Conscious Global Change. After graduating from Dartmouth College with a Government major and Mathematics minor, she moved to Shanghai to teach AP Calculus while volunteering in capacity-building roles at several Shanghai NGOs.

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