Normal School

Normal School refers to professional training institute for the teachers of primary schools. The first school of its kind was the 'Normal School' (Ecole Normale) located at Rims town of France. Saint John Baptist De La Salle set up the school in 1685. The main objective of this school was improvement of teaching methods and techniques by grooming ideal and good quality teachers in and outside schools.

Later, higher normal school (Ecole Normale Superieure) was introduced in Paris for the teachers of higher classes. These schools spread throughout Europe and other continents in phases. It was first established in America in 1823, when a missionary established it at Concord town of the Vermont state; the first state-run normal school was set up at Lexington town of the state of Massachusetts in 1839.

The Danish colonialists first established normal school in the Indian subcontinent in 1716 at the Tranquiver (present name 'Tarangambadi') town under Nagapattanam district of Tamil Nadu. William Kerry set up a normal school at Bombay in 1802. It was established in Kolkata in 1852. A normal school was set up in Hoogly, probably in 1856. The government-run normal school set up in Dhaka in 1857 was located near the present Bahadur Shah Park. The government set up a normal school for ladies at Sutrapur of Dhaka in 1863. But the school was closed down in 1872 in the absence of adequate number of female trainees. Information can be gathered about another normal school run by the Armenians at Armanitola of Dhaka. Lieutenant Governor Campbell of Bengal gave permission for establishment of 46 normal schools in 1874. This type of school was in vogue in Comilla (1869), Rangpur (1882), and Gwahati, Sylhet, Shilchar (1907) towns of Assam.

There were two types of courses in normal schools: 2-year long 'Guru course' for primary school teachers, and 3-year long 'normal course' for lower secondary school teachers. Besides, there were arrangements for short-term Guru training courses in some high quality lower secondary schools as well.

Primary and secondary Bengali school courses were organised in normal schools styled as 'laboratory' schools; the teachers did not have to go outside for training. Usually, there were arrangements for teachers to join these courses with scholarships. The responsibility of normal schools later fell on the primary teachers' training institutes and the normal schools became extinct at one point of time. These schools played a notable role from 1864 to the first half of the twentieth century in institutional education especially in spreading primary education through grooming of quality teachers. The teachers who passed from the normal schools were known as 'Pundits'. [MKI Quayyum Chwodhury]

See also teachers’ training institute.