Come September, a batch of “British experts” will come down to help primary school teachers in Bengal improve their communication skills.
This is part of a concerted government move to re-introduce English from Class I from 2004. English now is taught in 53,000 state-aided primary schools from Class III.
“It is for the first time that experts from the UK are being engaged to improve spoken English skills of primary school teachers. This will help them overcome their difficulties in interacting with the students,” said Jyotiprokash Ghosh, president, West Bengal Board of Primary Education.
A three-day workshop is being planned from September 14 for the purpose. Last year, only those engaged in teaching English in Madhyamik and Higher Secondary institutions were trained by a batch of British experts. But the government now has woken up to the need of primary teachers overcoming the language barrier.
According to officials in the education department, a recent study to examine the English-teaching abilities of primary school teachers found a vast majority lacking “the minimum knowledge of English required to interact with students”. The existing recruitment rules of the government allow any successful Madhyamik candidate to land a teaching job in a primary school.
A review of the government’s existing policy on teaching English at the primary level is due next year. Board president Ghosh, while insisting that no official order had been sent regarding the re-introduction of English from Class I, did admit “the stage is being set to teach English from an earlier stage”.