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 English textbooks for use in government primary schools across the state. This project involved preparing textbooks and teachers' books for Standards 1-5, with accompanying training for teachers.
West Bengal State English Project
This project, which was conducted in 2003, aimed to:
- help students learn English in a fun and joyful way using interactive methodology, group work and games
- develop teachers' 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 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. Until 2012, 220,000 primary-level teachers were trained using the new textbooks and 15 million students across the state used the textbooks.
The Pratham-ASER Centre did an evaluation of the West Bengal-British Council Programme in September 2011 in government primary schools across in 16 districts of West Bengal and found that:
- most children (over 90 per cent) had their own copy of My English Book
- over 80 per cent of teachers in classes 1-3 found the activities in the book to be appropriate for their respective classes
- over 70 per cent of teachers in all classes found the spelling and vocabulary content to be appropriate