Bihar Language Initiative in Secondary Schools - a group of male students in a classroom

British Council, photographer Christopher Tibble

Clients Department for International Development (DFID), Government of Bihar
Value £900,000
2011 to 2014
Country India

Through the Bihar Language Initiative for Secondary Schools we are helping to address the needs of teacher educators, teachers, learners and the wider community in Bihar by providing access to high-quality teaching and learning materials and increasing awareness of the value of English for employability.

We are working with the Bihar State Government to achieve part of its development agenda by devising a coherent and sustainable model for teacher development to help improve the quality of instruction and ultimately raise the level of English proficiency among teachers and learners. 

A new framework for Continuing Professional Development 

English language teachers and teacher educators are being supported to gain the necessary language and practical teaching skills for achieving National Curriculum Framework and Bihar Curriculum Framework goals, within a supportive and systemised professional development framework. 

Through this framework, a team of teacher educators, led by a core group of mentors, will have the capacity to plan and implement a system of Continuing Professional Development for up to 4,000 teachers beyond the lifetime of the project. 

To date, 177 teacher educators from Bihar’s 38 districts have been selected, trained and supported, and 50 of the teacher educators have conducted teacher training in 11 districts reaching 496 teachers. 

Teacher development films have also been jointly developed with teacher educators and will be made available for all teachers in the state in a variety of formats. 

Measurable impact

Impact is measured on four levels: participant engagement, participant learning, application of learning to the classroom and legacy impact. Baseline and endline language assessments of teachers are conducted using the British Council Aptis test, and progress is also monitored through learning assignments, self-evaluation and classroom impact observations of teachers and teacher educators. 

Language assessments show that 80 per cent of the teacher educators tested have shown an improvement in their language level, with over 50 per cent moving up one level on the Common European Framework of reference scale.

Over 90 per cent of participants have reported favourably against all engagement criteria, including relevance to their needs and their context. This shows significant improvement from baseline observations that showed virtually no evidence of English being used in the classroom.

The Bihar Story

A short film entitled English for all in Bihar was created to describe the project and has had over 7,000 YouTube hits. Showcased in many events and conferences as an exemplar of best practice, the programme has also received praise from many leading figures in the sector including the Bihar Minister of Education, the UK High Commissioner to India and many others. 


‘I used to be a traditional teacher. I would write ‘noun’ on the board and asked students to write it down and memorise it. But now I ask them to look around inside and outside the classroom for one minute and ask them to close their eyes and tell me what they have seen. I write down these words on the board. When they open their eyes, I tell them these words are ‘nouns’. 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, teacher educator, Muzaffarpur District