The Tejas project was a joint initiative delivered through a partnership between the Government of Maharashtra, Tata Trusts and the British Council. It aimed to improve the quality of English language teaching and learning in primary schools across the state. Under this initiative, the main focus was capacity building of the state so that it could provide appropriate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities to teachers. This was achieved by a blend of activities such as face-to-face training, online learning through e-moderated and self-access courses and Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs) at the cluster level. The creation of online communities of practice through popular social networking platforms and a teacher mentoring programme further enabled the state to further develop their capacity building objective.
This initiative broadly aimed at capacity building of the institutions of Maharashtra involved in teacher training; the objectives included:
- enabling the Regional Academic Authority (RAA) to plan, manage and support local communities to practice independently as an alternative to traditional cascade models of training
- enabling teachers to organise, form and implement local communities to practice, both digitally and face-to-face to improve their quality of teaching and, build on their professional development
- at the end of the project, TAG Coordinators and teachers will have gained more confidence in their ability to communicate effectively in English, especially in the classroom and the training room. The teachers will also have developed skills in facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities.
The project started as a pilot in nine districts of Maharashtra in 2016 and later was scaled up in 27 other districts; these include Ahmednagar, Akola, Amravati, Bhandara, Buldhana, Chandrapur, Dhule, Gondia, Jalgaon, Jalna, Kolhapur, Latur, Mumbai, Nanded, Osmanabad, Palghar, Parbhani, Pune, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Satara, Sindhudurg, Solapur, Thane, Wardha and Washi
- Selection of Teacher Activity Group (TAG) Coordinators: to facilitate the initial establishment of TAGs in Maharashtra, TAG Coordinators were selected through rigorous selection procedures which included an online application form that was scrutinised at several levels. As a part of the selection process, the candidates were also interviewed telephonically on their performance for final selection.
- Training of TAG Coordinators: A cadre of 850 TAG Coordinators, who can facilitate peer-support groups and form a sustainable resource for future initiatives, was developed. The TAG Coordinators went through 19 days of face-to-face training with a focus on Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs) and how these should be conducted. In addition, TAG Coordinators accessed the British Council online self-access course and experienced online learning and developed language proficiency. A TAG Coordinator was responsible for conducting TAG meetings in three clusters in each district. These meetings were conducted once a month and the TAG Coordinator was responsible for uploading the attendance data and the monthly report on the Tejas application.
- Digital communities of practice: groups for TAG Coordinators on various social media platforms have been established as digital communities of practice so that they have access to resources linked to CPD. These engagement forums complement TAG Coordinator training and provided on-going support, communication and access to professional development.
- Training of resource persons: A cadre of 20 State Academic Resource Persons (SARPs) and 50 English Subject Assistants (ESAs) across the state were established to support TAG Coordinators. Face-to-face training for SARPs and ESAs included orientation to the programme and development of project management and communication skills. They received 40 days of face-to-face training in teacher training skills, ELT theory and practice, ELT project management, monitoring and evaluation and material development. They received further support in anchoring and coordination of the core group that had access to an eight-week online e-moderated course which developed their English proficiency.
- Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL): This included classroom and TAG meeting observations, focus group discussions and collection of Most Significant Change stories from ESAs, TAG Coordinators, teachers, students and parents. All aspects of the project were monitored and evaluated using quality assured tools created specifically for Tejas with the support of an external consultant. The findings from TAG and classroom observations and feedback from all stakeholders fed back into the project planning cycle.
- 775 Teacher Activity Coordinators (TAG Cs)
- 2130 Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs)
- 65 State Academic Resource Persons (SARPs) & English Subject Assistants (ESAs)
- 240 Kendra Pramukhs
- 51000 teachers
- 140000 learners
- 1300 digital courses
- 55000 annual publication reach
- 95 per cent try out new ideas from the TAG in their lessons each month
- 84 per cent find their TAG social media group useful
- 95 per cent feel their English has improved since joining their TAG
- 93 per cent feel their learners are making progress in their English
- 95 per cent like to share their experiences and ideas about teaching during the TAG meeting
- 89 per cent use English appropriately during the TAG meeting
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21, the project continued impacting stakeholders, with training shifting to synchronous and asynchronous online inputs so that stakeholders developed their online facilitation skills and encouraged teachers to attend virtual TAGs. Government records show that 3507 online TAG meetings were attended by over 41,000 teachers across the state in 2020-21.
The end-of-project event was held on 18 March 2021, with speeches from Ms Varsha Gaikwad, the Honourable Minister of School Education, Government of Maharashtra, and Ms Amrita Patwardhan, Head, Education from Tata Trusts, in the presence of over 5100 stakeholders.
What our stakeholders say
The Tejas project, as its name suggests, has spread the ‘light’ of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the lives of many teachers in Maharashtra. The uniqueness of the project is the ownership the teachers have of all the activities and the success with their learners. Its effect will therefore be a long lasting one. Dr. Subhash Kamble, Director, Regional Academic Authority English Expertise, Aurangabad
During my English lessons I conduct activities and games I learned during our TAG meetings. I share these on my YouTube channel. When parents and other teachers see these videos and praise my students. It is also encouraging to see the progress my students have made by comparing the early videos with the recent ones. This motivates students to participate more and enjoy interactive activities. Swati Sawai, Teacher, Amravati
Nirguna Somde, Parent - Recently I have noticed a vast change in Rutu’s attitude towards learning English and using it. She now uses English to name all the vegetables, fruits and pulses grown in our farm. I have started learning English too so that I can speak to her. I’ve bought a vocabulary book and try very hard to learn new words. I hope someday I’m able to speak to my daughter in English and surprise her!
Pratiksha Gaikwad, TAG Coordinator, Zilla Parishad School, Dikshi, Nashik -Through the Tejas project, I learned many new activities and ideas on how to adapt those for my students. Now students are finding English easier and aren’t afraid of it anymore!
Pundlik Deshmukh, TAG Co-Ordinator, Gadchiroli - TAGs have been a platform to develop my language skills and confidence. I have seen an improvement in my own vocabulary, grammar and spoken fluency. Now I have started applying innovative and student- centred methods which we learned from the TAG Resource Book and have seen an improvement in my students’ speaking and listening skills too.