Charles Meadows

'The partnership over the last seven years has been healthy in every way, demonstrating a deep mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other. This contributed significantly to the progress we made on the projects.' - Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, Director-General, Department of Basic Education

Life cycle



South Africa


European Union


To improve the quality of language teaching in under-resourced South African schools in order to benefit learners and promote literacy. 


South Africa has 12 million pupils, but the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has identified weak areas in the education system that need support. The DBE has stated its aspiration to have well-trained teachers that are committed to giving learners the best possible education, thereby contributing to better outcomes for the youth population. Our track record of embedding bespoke Continuing Professional Development (CPD) frameworks into education systems around the world means we are well-placed to address the needs of teachers and learners and support the DBE’s long term plans. 


By collaborating with the DBE, we have implemented teacher development courses, including the British Council’s primary teacher training course, Certificate in Primary English Language Teaching (CiPELT), by adapting suitable modules that address the teaching needs in South Africa. Every teacher that completes the course earns valuable CPD points from the South African Council of Educators. An important part of the programme has been our Learn English Audio Project (LEAP) project that provides solar powered MP3 players to schools with intermittent electricity to increase access to quality English learning materials. We have also helped to establish teacher associations where teachers connect with each other to share ideas and advance their careers.


Since 2012, the programme has developed the capacity of 127,398 subject advisers and lead teachers, as well as supporting 122,936 teachers in all districts across nine provinces. A major achievement in 2018–19 was the establishment of a national teachers’ association, which contributes to the programme’s sustainability. LEAP has made a variety of valuable audio materials accessible. It has been particularly effective with learners transitioning from foundation to intermediate level English and is specifically popular with under-resourced multi-grade schools.

Through the programme, teachers’ attitudes towards the CiPELT changed as the value of new teaching methodologies was realised. The ELT programme has encouraged teachers to invest in themselves. The training has built their confidence and enabled them to support learners with different learning abilities. The teachers now pass on their classroom learnings to fellow teachers in their schools.

Mutual benefit

The programme has increased the UK’s influence in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT) by exposing government, learners and educators to a wider knowledge of UK good practice and  connecting to UK counterparts, and vice versa. For example, Warwick University has offered Masters degrees to officials in key government education departments. Professor Harry Kuchah from Leeds University, president of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) officially launched the National Association of English Teachers South Africa (NAETSA) as a result of the programme. The Open University has also conducted the Monitoring and Evaluation report on the Learn English Audio Project (LEAP).