The British Council, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) Bihar and the UK Department for International Development (DfID) established the Bihar Language Initiative for Secondary Schools (BLISS) project in January 2012 to improve standards in secondary school English teaching in the state and increased awareness of the value of English for employability. Initially a two-year project, BLISS was extended until March 2017. 

Click here to view a snapshot of the project.

Project vision

The BLISS project aimed to address the needs of the teacher educators, teachers, learners and the wider community in Bihar by providing access to high quality teaching and learning materials as well as increased awareness of the value of English for employability. It aimed to aid the Bihar state government in devising a coherent, high quality and sustainable model for teacher development to improve the quality of instruction and ultimately raise the level of English proficiency among both teachers and learners in the state, enabling the Bihar state government to achieve its development agenda.

We worked with a core group of 200 teacher educators. We supported the state government in ensuring that specialist English teachers in Bihar have the necessary skills to achieve the National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2005) and Bihar Curriculum Framework (BCF 2008) goals. Up to 2000 English teachers (Standards 9-10) were trained to use English in their lessons and provide opportunities for their students to use English in a variety of interactive and meaningful ways that are relevant to their needs and context. 

Workshops were held for head teachers and District Education and Project Officers in the state to ensure that they understood the aims of the project and what was required of them in supporting teacher development. We engaged with local communities through the media and local events, which discussed the link between English and employability and the rationale behind learner and learning centred teaching methodologies.

We provided resources for learners and teachers at all levels through print, radio and web-based media. This included BLISS Teacher Development films, a series featuring teachers from Bihar showcasing learner centred and activity based teaching methodologies for reading lessons designed for low level learners and specific to the Bihar context. The British Council’s LearnEnglish Schools, a web-derived resource for learners to complement the local curriculum, was made available to teachers and learners and orientations provided to enable teachers to make the maximum use of the resource.

Key activities

Direct training 

  • Support for the professional development of up to 200 teacher educators (TEs) from all districts of Bihar focusing on classroom teaching skills, trainer skills and language proficiency. 
  • Delivery of BLISS training (Blocks 1, 2 and 3) by the TEs to up to 2000 teachers in their own districts, focusing on developing skills in English language teaching.  
  • Delivery of orientation workshops to District Project Officers, District Education Officers, Assistant Resource Persons and head teachers

Material development

  • Development of three seven-day courses: English for all (EfA) Blocks 1, 2 and 3 (total sixty hours of training content).
  • Development of the BLISS Teacher Development Films series focusing on developing reading skills.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) 

  • Participation by teacher educators and Bihar government officials including State Project Officers in national conferences (Teacher Educator Conference, Hyderabad, AINET International Conference, Nagpur) and international events (IATEFL), and by teacher educators in British Council Hornby School (Nepal).
  • Development of films: English for all and BLISS Teacher Development films
  • Support for development of clubs for learners by teacher educators
  • Competitions: lesson planning, poster design and club activities
  • Installation of the British Council LearnEnglish Schools resource in more than fifty schools in Bihar, followed by orientations and monitoring and evaluation.

Impact

There is strong evidence of the positive impact of BLISS training on teacher and student behaviour. This has been achieved through a combination of relationship building, sensitivity to local contexts and professionalism – all qualities which are at the heart of the British Council's work - Dr Christopher Tribble, BLISS External Evaluation Report, April 2016.

BLISS monitoring and evaluation systems have been described in two independent reports (2016) as ‘first-rate’ and ‘exemplary’.

Satisfaction ratings

  • 99 per cent of participants assessed training as relevant and wanted to apply skills acquired in their classrooms
  • 68 per cent of participants scored over 70 per cent in end-of-course assessments
  • Over 70 per cent of teacher educators were positive about support from head teachers, administrative personnel and the state.

Language proficiency

  • Almost 60 per cent of teacher educators sampled increased their proficiency in grammar, reading and writing by at least one band on the CEFR scale
  • Almost 50 per cent of teacher educators sampled increased their oral proficiency by at least one band.

Classroom performance

  • Significant increases in the extent of lesson planning, use of English and classroom management by teachers and teacher educators following professional development
  • Measurable wider use of pair work, group work and learner interaction, activities likely to interest learners, opportunities for learners to speak
  • Substantial increases in the ability of teachers and teacher educators to reflect on their teaching.

Delivery of training by teacher educators

  • 97 per cent of Block 1 teacher educators identified as well prepared, confident and committed
  • At least 40 per cent of teacher educators meeting all standards and significantly higher numbers met standards including preparation, commitment, use of pair and group work and effective reflection on performance.

Information Technology

  • 97 per cent of learners stated they had enjoyed using the LearnEnglish Schools resource and 96 per cent that they had found the content interesting
  • All teachers surveyed agreed the LearnEnglish Schools resource was fun and would support learning and all teacher educators surveyed felt that the Teacher Development Films resource was useful, well presented and appropriate for their school and district.

Resources

Working with teacher educators and British Council local Training Consultants, we have developed three blocks of face-to-face teacher training materials focused on classroom management, teaching reading and teaching speaking.

  • A 20-minute film was produced explaining the BLISS project and issues around English in Bihar which was broadcast on state TV in 2015 and again in 2016. The film is in Hindi, with an English language version available on YouTube
  • BLISS incorporates a number of British Council India resources for both teachers and learners. This includes the TeachingEnglish Radio India series and LearnEnglish Schools, an off-line package of materials taken from the LearnEnglish website which have been mapped to the local curriculum (see further details below)
  • The BLISS English for All (EfA) project has developed a series of Teacher Development films, which show English secondary school teachers at work in different locations in Bihar. The films provide a self-access learning resource for teachers in Bihar who may not be able to attend face-to-face training
  • LearnEnglish Schools is a compilation of resources available online on the British Council LearnEnglish website. The aim is to provide resources for English language teaching and learning in contexts where access the internet is a challenge. This offline resource includes activities on receptive skills, vocabulary and grammar for grades 1 to 10. 

Research and publications 

  •  English in Education: Bihar Profile: available in the downloads section below
  • Social Attitudes to English in Bihar: available in the downloads section below

What our stakeholders say

BLISS is a wonderful project - and support from the British Council has been outstanding…close monitoring and impact studies are an excellent aspect of this project – Mrs Kiran Kumari, State Programme Officer (Quality Education) - Bihar Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad

The training gave us techniques to teach English in an easy way. Now we have the confidence we can do something … even with a lack of resources - Himanshu Shekhar Teacher Educator, Muzaffarpur, Bihar

The BLISS project has given us wings to fly - Shobha Kumari, Teacher Educator, Siwan, Bihar

English in Education: Bihar Profile

English in Education: Bihar Profile (2016) has been produced by British Council East India working in cooperation with Pratham. It provides a comprehensive reference document on the teaching and learning of English and education in general in the state and a 'snapshot' of current systems and practices at one specific moment in time, late November 2015. It describes systems and current practices, summarises existing research and presents data gathered through the BLISS project. It aims to serve as a foundation for decision-making and a source of information for researchers, organisations and individuals planning to work in Bihar. It will also be of interest to head teachers, teacher educators and teachers working in the contexts it describes.

Social attitudes towards the English language in Bihar

Social attitudes towards the English language in Bihar presents the findings of a research programme led by Dr David Hayes. It identifies the perceptions of the place, value and status of English in India of a range of social groups comprising parents of school-age children, students in higher education and private language schools and professionals (people in employment in the private sector or with the government), almost two thousand respondents in total. Findings emphasise the value respondents place upon the importance and status of English, with significant differences between more and less developed districts and respondents with different degrees of experience with English.