North Eastern Council (NEC), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (M-DoNER) and the state governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura worked with the British Council to develop English language learning and teaching in government schools across Northeast India.   

On 11 October 2018, the British Council and the North Eastern Council (NEC) signed an agreement to work together in several areas including improving the teaching and learning of English, Science and Mathematics in the eight states of the Northeast through capacity building initiatives for teachers.  

Project aims and objectives

To develop the learning and teaching of English in primary schools of Northeast India by equipping 50 Master Trainers per state (i.e. 400 Master Trainers in total) with the interactive facilitation skills and pedagogical knowledge that will enable them to lead teacher education initiatives in each state.

Project activities

  • Training of teachers: The five-day training for 100 teachers from eight states focused on learner-centred teaching skills such as using games for the language classroom and using learners’ own language, in which teachers learned how to engage learners effectively when teaching English language in the classroom. Teachers practised newly learnt concepts through observed micro-teaching sessions. As well as developing their understanding and use of learner-centred classroom pedagogy, this training also enabled the British Council to identify participants having the required skills, attitude and English proficiency to become Master Trainers, leading to the selection of eight cadres of up to 50 Master Trainers per state.
  • Selection of Master Trainers: Eight cadres of 50 Master Trainers from the north-eastern states were selected based on a range of agreed criteria.
  • Training of Master Trainers: Master Trainers received 10 days of face-to-face training. This training focused on developing their skills and knowledge of interactive pedagogical approaches, their English language proficiency and training skills.
  • Online course for Master Trainers: Master Trainers participated in a British Council myEnglish online course. This was a combination of live online classes and guided self-study. On this course, Master Trainers studied online with regular help and guidance of a teacher, for six weeks.
  • Establishment of digital communities of practice: To complement the face to face trainings and provide ongoing support, WhatsApp groups for each state were set up for Master Trainers to provide on-going support, communication and access to professional development opportunities.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: To support project implementation and capture impact, classrooms of Master Trainers trained on the project were observed. Findings and feedback from stakeholders were fed back into the project planning cycle.

Initially, up to 100 teachers per state were trained by the British Council for five days. As well as developing their understanding and use of learner-centred classroom pedagogy, this training also enabled the British Council to identify participants having the required skills, attitude and English proficiency to become Master Trainers, leading to the selection of eight cadres of up to 50 Master Trainers per state.

The British Council then delivered two five-day blocks of training, aiming to develop Master Trainers’ facilitation skills, and their knowledge and practice of interactive classroom approaches, techniques and activities for teaching English in a learner-centred manner. In addition to this, Master Trainers have participated in the British Council myEnglish online course to develop their English skills and familiarity with online continuing professional development (CPD).

In each state, there is a WhatsApp community of practice for Master Trainers, through which they share successes and challenges related to classroom implementation and share CPD resources and opportunities. To understand project impact and to give feedback, the British Council aimed to observe ten Master Trainers teaching in their schools in each state.

Project impact

Teachers and Master Trainers who participated in project activities have overwhelmingly expressed their satisfaction with what they learnt.

When surveyed, 97 per cent of Master Trainers stated they were doing things differently in their classrooms as a result of their participation in this project and 97 per cent of Master Trainers felt that their involvement in the project has helped their learners. Many were able to give specific examples of how; learners are participating more actively, they are benefiting from the range of techniques and activities covered in the training, and they are more confident to speak in English.

This finding is supported by the monitoring and evaluation data collected during classroom observations so far conducted in three states, with every observed Master Trainer using at least one of the activities/techniques developed during British Council training, in their classroom. In total, 76 per cent of observed parameters were met or partially met.

The project has established WhatsApp communities of practice for Master Trainers in seven states. These groups are vibrant and enable Master Trainers to discuss their learning, to share examples of implementing training content in their classrooms, and for the British Council to share online resources and ideas for their continuing professional development. It has been noticed that WhatsApp is a more accessible communication channel than email, and we have continued to share CPD recommendations during the Covid-19 crisis.

The 65 per cent pass rate in the myEnglish online course indicates that despite widespread questions around internet connectivity and access, teacher development in the Northeast can incorporate online and blended approaches. Best practices included ongoing technical support via mobiles and WhatsApp, face-to-face orientations, and combining self-access inputs with synchronous videoconferencing.

Seven states now have cadres of up to 50 trained Master Trainers who have a range of training skills to enable them to facilitate teacher education initiatives in each state. They have also been prepared to deliver the five-day 30-hour course.

Out of the 630 teachers in the end-of-course feedback survey, 78 per cent strongly agreed, and a further 21 per cent agreed that they had acquired new knowledge and/or skills. In terms of whether the five-day training met their expectations, 58 per cent of teachers strongly agreed, and a further 41 per cent agreed.

Testimonials

The workshops should never end. Maybe other batches too could receive the same workshop. The training was awesome

I have attended many trainings and workshops and it was helpful, but this is something more specific and interesting one and very helpful

My suggestion is to have more similar workshops in the future

A good learning experience for teachers like us. We got to learn new things and hope to do it in future too

I would like to say that every teacher should get this training in future

The duration of training period is very short – it should be extended to 10-12 days

If the training would have extended for more than five days, it would have been rather nice for us to learn more