Students engaged in group work in a government primary school in Kolkata, West Bengal

The British Council in partnership with Sarba Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) West Bengal and the West Bengal Board of Primary Education embarked on an ambitious programme – West Bengal State English Project (WeBStEP) – to develop new English textbooks for use in government primary schools across the state in 2003. This project involved preparing teachers' books and classroom textbooks for Standards 1-5, with accompanying training for teachers.

Project objectives

This project aimed to:

  • help students across the state from rural to urban contexts learn English in a fun and joyful way, using interactive methodology, group work and games
  • develop teacher’s ability to create more opportunities for their students to interact in English, within the existing curriculum
  • encourage teachers to use more learner-centred and activity-based methodology in the classroom
  • develop new materials for the teachers and students
  • improve teachers’ confidence in using more English in the classroom
  • supplement these materials with audio-visual materials aimed at teachers' Continuing Professional Development.

Reach and impact

We worked with a core group of 300 Master Trainers and trained them to work with teachers, orienting them to the approaches and activities within the new textbook. 220,000 primary-level teachers trained using the new textbooks and until 2012,15 million students used the textbook across the state.

The Pratham-ASER Centre did an evaluation of the West Bengal-British Council Program in September 2011 in Government Primary Schools across in 16 districts of West Bengal.

  • Most children (over 90%) had their own copy of My English Book
  • Over 80% of the teachers, in classes 1-3, found the activities in the book to appropriate for their respective classes. Even in Std. 1 the response was about 80%.
  • Over 70% of teachers in all classes found the spelling and vocabulary content to be appropriate

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