The first agreement is for the British Council to work with the Afghan Ministry of Education to train 16,500 of Afghanistan’s estimated 45,000 current English teachers, to help improve the standards of English language teaching provision across the country.
The second agreement is for the British Council to work with the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education to support the transition of Kabul’s public universities towards teaching in English.
Speaking after the meeting, President Karzai said “We are very pleased that the British Council is able to support the future generations of Afghanistan and we are happy and committed to support these educational programmes. When the British Council takes one step we will take many steps to further your initiatives. English as a medium requirement at schools will create many more opportunities for our students in Higher Education.”
John Mitchell, the British Council’s Director in Afghanistan, said “I am delighted that we have agreed these new programmes with President Karzai and the Afghan government. The British Council is committed to working in Afghanistan and supporting its long-term development. Having an integrated approach to English language teaching implemented across the national education system will enable the best possible results and impact, supporting the next generation of Afghans to gain international skills, attract investment and present their country on the world’s stage.”
The British Council first began working in Afghanistan in 1964, building cultural links between the UK and Afghanistan, with the strong support of the Afghan government. In 2011 terrorists destroyed the British Council’s office in Kabul, killing eight security guards. The British Council resumed its operations after a week and is committed to remaining in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal of international combat forces.
Currently the British Council runs programmes across the arts, sport, the English language and secondary and higher education, helping to develop the next generation of Afghan leaders. The British Council’s programmes create links with the UK and provide opportunities for emerging Afghan leaders and influencers, to help in their efforts to stabilise and develop Afghanistan.
Mr Mitchell added “The 2014/15 transition years from having a foreign military presence will still require international collaboration. Trust already established between the UK and Afghanistan will be critical to this process. The Afghan government and people recognize that Education, including English, is critical to their country's development. The UK is recognized as a world leader in the teaching of English, and we will look to bring about a transformational change in the provision of English teaching in Afghanistan – which in turn will help Afghans transform their country.”