I have benefited a lot from it, there are some perspectives that have refined in my mind on some topics such as culture, social and religious diversity, and how to understand others in a better way.
English for Interfaith dialogue participant
British Council, Al-Azhar, British Embassy, private donors
To empower Al-Azhar University students, scholars and staff to confidently engage in interfaith and intercultural dialogue with people from other backgrounds nationally and overseas through the medium of English.
Al-Azhar is a global leader in Islamic thinking and is widely recognised as a moderate voice within the community. Our partnership with Al-Azhar started in 2007, initiated at the request of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the then President of the University. The idea was to support the Al-Azhar University in setting up an English language training centre for students at the Faculty of Islamic Studies.
The programme has evolved into three strands:
- To support the Al-Azhar English Training Centre in providing quality English language lessons
- To build the capacity of Al-Azhar to support the professional development of their primary and secondary school teachers
- To manage a master’s and PhD UK scholarship programme for Al-Azhar teachers and students with the British Embassy.
English for Interfaith Dialogue (EID) is a continuation of the programme, aiming to increase our work with Al-Azhar and further build on this longstanding, mutually beneficial partnership. The programme is now transitioning from a pilot to a full roll-out for all Islamic studies students.
Each strand of the programme enables Al-Azhar students and scholars to confidently engage in interfaith and intercultural dialogue with people from other cultures and faiths from across the world.
A total of 37 teachers from the Al-Azhar English Training Centre have been trained in English language pedagogy and the EID curriculum to support students from Al-Azhar university. In addition, 43 teacher educators were trained as Teacher Activity Group (TAG) facilitators, who then cascaded training to 1,380 Azhari school teachers across Egypt (1,027 face to face and 353 virtually). Over 2,730 Azhari students studied at the English Training Centre; whereby 1,113 graduated with 72% graduating at B1/B2 CEFR level. A further nine Azhari scholars have also joined academic scholarship programmes at top-ranked UK universities, whilst 95 students graduated from the EID pilot programme with positive feedback.
Furthermore, at a prospective English Teaching Centre in Luxor,18 teachers were trained intensively and sat a credited Teaching Knowledge Test to serve a women’s college of around 6,000 female students.
Our partnership with Al-Azhar facilitates mutually beneficial people-to-people and institution-to-institution dialogue. This aligns closely with our cultural relations mission, recognising the value that dialogue has in building friendly knowledge and engendering trust between people of the UK and other countries.
By developing the capacity and provision of English education systems at Al-Azhar and providing world-class opportunities to study abroad and engage with different faith groups, the partnership supported Azhari aspirations and ambitions to further its goals for transnational and intercultural connectivity.