Instituted in 1958, the National Award to Teachers are given away by the President of India on 5th September (Teacher's Day) every year to give public recognition to meritorious teachers working in primary, middle and secondary schools. Altogether there are 374 awards out of which 20 awards are reserved for Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic teachers. Each State/Union Territory/Organization has an earmarked quota based on the number of teachers. The Scheme also covers teachers of the schools affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) including teachers of independent affiliated schools situated abroad, Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE), Sainik School, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), Central Tibetan School Administration (CTSA) and schools run by the Atomic Energy Education Society.
From the award year 2001, ‘Special Awards’ have been instituted for teachers promoting inclusive education in schools and the education of children with disabilities in regular schools. The total number of ‘Special Awards’ are 43. ‘Special Awards’ are conferred on the teachers of following categories:
The Government, from the Award Year 2004 has approved that one family member of the awardee teacher would also be treated as State Guests during their stay in Delhi for the function and their expernses would be borne by the Department.