In India’s Bihar State, training teachers to deliver quality education

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Improving the Quality of Teachers in India's Bihar State

On World Literacy Day, we spoke with our colleague, Senior Education Specialist Shabnam Sinha, on the importance of training teachers to improve learning outcomes. 

Ms. Sinha is working on a project that aims to improve the quality of elementary school teaching in Bihar, India where the number of students enrolled in grades 1 to 8 has increased tremendously –  from some 11 million students in 2004 to more than 21 million in 2014, of whom about 90 percent live in rural areas.

This rapid increase in access to elementary education was spurred by the Indian government’s nationwide Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan program which has been working towards universal primary education in the country and is supported by the World Bank Group.

The next major challenge is to ensure that students are learning basic skills while in school.

Could you briefly describe the learning environment for students in Bihar?

Until 2005-06, Bihar had 90 pupils to a teacher with most schools being single or two teacher schools. In 2013-14, with massive hiring, the state brought the ratio down to 51 pupils to a teacher and 55 to a classroom. Clearly, students will benefit from these ratios continuing to improve.

However, what is really exciting about Bihar’s current focus on education is that the government is tackling the learning environment in schools—which is a serious and ongoing challenge in many developing countries—with a major effort now underway to raise teacher competencies.

Success in improving the level of learning will make a real difference to the future prospects of school children in the state, as surveys have shown that both teacher proficiency and student performance in language and mathematics is weak. Learning the right foundational skills in elementary school is critical for onward education and for students to be able to earn higher incomes as adults.
The World Bank Group is supporting the Government’s prioritization of hiring and training of elementary school teachers in Bihar through a new results-oriented project that aims to strengthen the state’s teacher education and management systems, and help revive the state’s past heritage as a historical center of learning.

What are the specific challenges being addressed by the new World Bank Group project (Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness in Bihar Program for Results)?

Teacher training in Bihar is coordinated through a complex network of teacher education institutions that includes: the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), Primary Teachers Education Colleges (PTECs) at the district-level, and finally Block Resource Centers (BRCs) at the sub-district level. These institutions do not have adequate infrastructure or capacity to respond to the demands of training large numbers of teachers.

The new Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness program in Bihar is an essential part of the state’s mission to provide quality education, especially to all elementary level students.  The program will equip teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to be more effective in the classroom and will enhance accountability measures for improved governance of the teacher education ecosystem. 
The five-year program (2015-2020) takes a broad, system-wide approach to enhancing teacher effectiveness including:  (i) developing high quality teacher education institutions for improved program delivery; (ii) certification of unqualified elementary school teachers and their continuous professional development; (iii) developing an effective teacher management system accompanied with a monitoring and evaluation mechanism; (iv) improving accountability mechanisms at school level; and (v) improving financial and governance mechanisms.
What is unique about the way this project is being implemented and what are some of the results Bihar is hoping to achieve in the first year?

The project is being implemented using Results-Based Financing, which is helping to shift the focus in Bihar to short-term and long-term outcomes (improved teacher subject knowledge, pedagogy, behavior and improved classroom processes) rather than simply concentrating on inputs such as classroom construction in schools, which has been already vastly improved through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. World Bank financing is now being linked to the achievement of pre-agreed results that are outcome- oriented and will help improve education service delivery.

In the first year, these results include upgrading 40 institutes that received high scores from a uniquely designed Teacher Education Institutional Development Index, preparing state-of-the-art materials for Continuing Professional Development, updating the Teacher Education Management Information System (TEMIS) -- a teacher training and management database; and strengthening corporate governance to improve procurement practices.

How does this project link up with the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals agenda in education?

The program supports the Sustainable Development Goals agenda because it is working towards inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by enhancing teacher competencies to help them deliver quality education. 

Follow the World Bank Group education team on Twitter @wbg_education


Kavita Watsa

Senior Operations Officer

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