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.
West Bengal State English Project
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