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Selection of master trainers The government of India’s flagship educational initiative, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), was established in 2002 to meet the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education. Teacher quality was identified as a crucial input and provision was made to provide every primary school teacher with a mandatory 20 days in-service training per year. District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), Block Resource Centres and Cluster Resource Centres were already in existence, having been created under the District Primary Education Programme the decade before, but the system sorely lacked, and still does to this day, experienced, credible and skilled teacher educators able to provide training and school-based support for the large numbers of teachers in the system. The cascade model became the model of necessity, and training was delivered by small numbers of trainers at the state level, who trained a further layer of trainers at district level, block level and then cluster level before teachers were trained in the final layer. Dilution of quality, misappropriation of core pedagogical messages and the lack of flexible and need-based content are just some of the well-documented risks associated with such models (Gilpin, 1997; Hayes, 2000; Wedell 2005). The British Council India, in collaboration with state government partners, identified a limited layer cascade model, which relied on the identification of a large number of ‘master trainers’ to directly train teachers, thereby limiting the number of training layers. To be successful, the initial selection of these master trainers was identified as critical, both in the literature (Wedell, 2005; NCTE, 2010) and in our own and our partners’ experience. A master trainer with limited or no experience of teaching or training, with weak language skills (both in English and the vernacular) and lack of pedagogical knowledge or understanding of the local context or credibility, would be unlikely to impact on teacher learning and behaviour change. However, the appointment of master trainers is often based on seniority, convenience and/or patronage, and can be subject to scrutiny from teacher unions, parents and teachers alike. The political economy, including structural and cultural hierarchies, as well as economic realities, can dictate the recruitment and selection process to be followed. Our intention was to seek a way of identifying and recruiting master trainers acceptable to both decision makers and teachers, thereby increasing the chances of the in-service training programme’s quality, relevance and acceptance. Since 2008 this has been implemented in a number of different ways depending on the needs and constraints of each state partnership project, and has built on our experiences and the experiences of our partners. Below are some examples of the processes we have initiated: a.

One state partner was concerned that the teacher unions would not accept teachers being assessed as part of a selection procedure. Instead, teachers were asked to volunteer to be master trainers and they went through training, during which their skills and competencies were evaluated and they were recommended to cascade to teachers depending on whether they met certain pre-defined criteria.


In another state, a large and motivated team of Block Resource Teacher Educators (BRTEs) already existed and so they, along with a group of practising teachers, were interviewed by phone to assess their language proficiency and general motivation, and selected to work together in pairs.

Continuing professional development in action |


Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  
Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  

The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...