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Relevance of History

I was recently approached for a conversation by an NGO founder on LinkedIn. His team was building a teacher training course for providing training to teachers in the govt schools of UP.

They directly started with how we can “train teachers” effectively. Jumping into designing a program using “design thinking”.

I said, “first we need to ask: why?”

When I was a child, I often heard, “jo kuchh nahi karta, wo teacher banta h” (one who can’t achieve anything in life becomes a teacher). In India, historically, teachers were referred to as gurus and were revered big time. Then, how did we ended up creating a system where teachers don’t get the respect they deserve.

How do you build an “impactful” course for teacher training when we don’t know why the system is like this?

I talked about three aspects:

1. Teachers and how their position changed in the system historically
2. At policy level, how did independent India focus on school education
3. The b.ed. colleges and the regulatory system’s history


Historically, in India, teachers were highly revered and they were mostly paid in kind. As a farmer, if I am cultivating rice, I would send two sacks of rice to the teacher as payment (gurudakshina).

So, when the Britishers set up the modern education system, they appointed teachers but didn’t pay them well considering they were already paid in kind. On the other hand, as teachers were paid by the govt (though peanuts), farmers didn’t pay them much in kind. Essentially, teachers were neither paid well in cash nor in kind. And thus, teacher as a “job” became an “unattractive” occupation for the youth of the country.


Independent India’s immediate focus was on higher education due to low economy. Interestingly, we hardly focused on school education after independence. Unbelievably, it was only in 1993–94, that we came up with first school education focused policy, called DPEP. This was also because of the “Education for All” conference in 1990 in Senegal where indirect impact of school education on economy was established, and World Bank was ready to give us loan for DPEP.


CTET was not always mandatory. Considering point 1 and point 2, becoming a teacher was considered one of the easiest govt jobs as there were no strict parameters. The B.Ed. scam, specifically in Bihar, ran for years. Innumerable low quality teachers got into the system due to this scam.

There are other factors like caste, gender and religion that I am not touching but these were three broad aspects.

However, this is just information and I leave the interpretation to you. Bring these info/data points together, and try to examine and analyze, what and why is the position of teachers in India as such, and if you want to create a teacher training program, what exactly do you need to do.

If you want to talk to me or share your interpretations, I am just a ping away!




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Priyank Sharma

Priyank Sharma

Educationist (NIEPA) | Engineer (NIT) | Social Worker (TISS) | Counsellor (NCERT) | Researcher | Founder | Creator

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