In 2018 the Bangladeshi Government approved a multibillion-dollar five-year reform programme for primary education – Primary Education Development Programme 4 (PEDP4) - the largest ever project in the country’s primary education sector. The British Council was awarded a large training programme – English for Primary Teachers (EPT) – worth 230 Crore BDT (approx. £21 million) as part of this reform. The Honourable Prime Minister of Government of People's Republic of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina personally approved the project, stressing the need for giving the utmost priority to children to learn English proficiently at the primary level. The British Council has been recognised as the best partner to engage in helping Bangladesh achieve this goal. The project aligns with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically around Sustainable Development Goal 4 - Quality education.
In 2019 the government-approved TMTE as the first British Council intervention – a 47 Crore BDT (£4.5 million) country-wide primary school teacher development project – as the first phase of this ambitious national education reform initiative. This intervention is a 13-month long English training project with the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME) working initially in 15 Primary Training Institutes (PTI’s) across Bangladesh. The objective of TMTE, working in partnership with the Directorate of Primary Education, is to enhance primary-level in-service English teacher education through the development of over 2,000 primary teachers into Master Trainers in English and English-language teaching practices. Our focus will be on developing Master Trainers who will be proficient and skilled in English, have a clear understanding of effective teaching practice at the primary level, and the skills necessary to support the development of almost 130,000 English teachers in primary schools.
Ultimately, this cohort of Master Trainers will contribute to improving the English language skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking, and presentation) and understanding of effective language teaching practices among primary teachers, and therefore indirectly support the learning of their students.
The project has provided us with the opportunity to create a positive national impact by changing the systems that govern teacher education for English in Bangladesh.
The official launch of TMTE
After much delay due to Covid-19, the TMTE project was officially launched by chief guest the Honourable Minister, Ministry of Education, Dr Dipu Moni MP at the prestigious InterContinental Hotel on Sunday 31 January 2021. The Honourable Minister delivered an inspiring vision of the future of education in Bangladesh and the enormous impact that TMTE will have on those primary teachers participating. It is clear that TMTE has long term future in Bangladesh beyond the current cohort of activity.
The launch was also attended by a number of special government officials including the Honourable Minister of State, MoPME, Mr Md Zakia Hossen MP, Secretary, MoPME, Mr GM Hashibul, and Director General, DPE, Mr Alamgir Md Monsurul Alam. Mr Javed Patel, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission and Mr Tom Miscioscia, Country Director, British Council also spoke to those in attendance, highlighting the longstanding special relationship that exists between the UK and Bangladesh, especially around education.
There were also a number of training participants from Dhaka PTI in attendance, who are at the heart of what TMTE is all about, with one or two speaking eloquently about their excitement to begin their learning journey on TMTE. For them, to hear the words of those that spoke at the launch has been really motivating as they embark on their learning journey over the next 14 weeks.
And the training begins!
Almost a year after we were to originally start delivery of training, 88 participants selected by DPE have commenced their learning journey in two PTIs – Dhaka and Gazipur. This first batch of training is small-scale to ensure that face-to-face training can be safely and securely delivered in this new world be find ourselves in. They are now on the home stretch with only a few weeks left until they graduate on 17 June 2021, timing nicely with the hopeful reopening of schools. There have been numerous highlights during this cohort, rich with experiences from the perspective of both participant and trainer. A key highlight has been how engaged and motivated the participants have been with all that is happening around them – the sacrifice of time with family and friends to better themselves as teachers. We will highlight some of these stories next month.
As this cohort draws to a close, we turn to the next which is not due to start until later this year. In the coming months, we will update you on what is happening moving forward with the training including confirming dates and PTIs where the training will be delivered.
Cohort 1 Graduation
After more than a year delay due to the pandemic, our first cohort of primary teachers completed the TMTE training programme on 17 June 2021. For some, this journey started back in November and December last year when a small group participated in the online trialling of the learning materials. Then in late January this year, we held the official launch of TMTE at the InterContinental Hotel, chaired by Mr Alamgir Mohammed Monsurul Alam, Director General, Directorate of Primary Education with chief guest Dr Dipu Moni MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Education.
Our first cohort of eager teachers started their learning journey on 31 January 2021; originally scheduled for 14 weeks in two PTIs – Dhaka and Gazipur. However, the ongoing pandemic posed some challenges during this time, most notably when the government introduced lockdown restrictions and we were required to leave the PTIs for over a month. Despite this, we continued to work with our teacher family remotely, offering guided English proficiency self-study, supporting teaching practice preparation, and delivering several live webinars each week. We also continued our strong work and engagement with our growing Bangladeshi primary teacher community of practice.
Finally, we were able to return to the PTIs and complete delivery of the training programme. It was concluded by administering post-course language assessment using invigilated Aptis General, with more than 25% of teachers from this first cohort improving a solid CEFR level – a remarkable achievement. The majority of the other teachers also showed measurable improvement across the four language skills (particularly speaking and listening). There was also marked improvement in their teaching practice, despite schools remaining closed since early last year.