María Fernanda Campo, Minister of Education Colombia and Robert Ness, Director British Council Colombia in a meeting agreeing terms of reference for the National English Language Policy Consultancy Project

British Council

Clients Ministry of Education Colombia
Country Colombia

A long-term goal of the Colombian government is to develop a workforce equipped to compete in the globalised economy of the 21st century. To achieve this goal, the government is committed to improving the population’s language skills. The British Council was selected to deliver this ambitious, wide-ranging project to review and reform English language teaching (ELT) policy and practices in the state education system of Colombia.

Building capacity

Our project team is working with the ministry of education, regional education authorities and a range of private and public sector partners in:

  • conducting an analysis of the state of ELT in the country, surveying over 7,500 teachers
  • producing new national English standards for primary and secondary schools
  • aligning the national examinations for high school and undergraduate levels with the national English standards
  • setting up a cascade teacher training programme together with regional partners, such as universities
  • supporting the ministry in formulating a framework for the accreditation of private ELT schools. 

Our approach is holistic and always seeks to integrate initiatives across the public education system.

Policy making

  • The development of an English language policy framework for the country.
  • The creation of Colombia’s first set of basic education standards for foreign language learning. These standards are currently used by 40 per cent of local education authorities and at least 1,730 education institutions around the country.
  • A key facilitator in the design of a standardised assessment framework for English language learning based on the Common European Framework of Reference. This assessment framework has been an official part of the state test (Prueba Saber) since 2008.

Teacher training and resources

  • The design and implementation of a national strategy and action plan for teacher development, based on the first nation-wide baseline study of teacher needs, with a direct impact on 18 local education authorities and around 390 teachers between 2007 and 2010.
  • The professionalisation of university teacher training capacity in line with Colombian and international best practice. By the end of 2013 this will have reached around 895 education institutions and 2,650 teachers.
  • The development of national guidelines and packs of teacher resources for use in secondary schools.

Institutional strengthening 

Through implementation of best practice in institutional structures at both national and regional levels, we have reached and impacted:

  • 100 per cent of the country’s local education authorities
  • 75 per cent of universities’ initial language teacher training programmes
  • 50 per cent of initial teacher training programmes in secondary education.


'The achievements of Colombia in terms of English competencies development are due mostly to the assistance that the British Council, through its expertise and vast knowledge, has provided us with.'

María Fernando Campo, Minister of Education, Colombia.