Children in Egypt smiling at the camera

Mat Wright

Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced inequalities.

Taqaddam - enhancing life opportunities for young people in the Middle East and North Africa

A 2018 British Council survey of more than 500 Dubai-based business leaders, UAE Future Skills, highlighted a lack of flexible, future-ready skills in new recruits to the workplace.  

The award-winning Taqaddam programme, run by the British Council in partnership with HSBC MIddle East Ltd, Spark + Mettle and the Goodall Foundation, addresses this skills gap by developing pathways into employment for young people aged 15 and 16 in the Middle East and North Africa.

Taqaddam means ‘moving forward’ in Arabic, reflecting the overarching aim of the programme to help young people manage the transition from school into the next stage of their lives. For Taqaddam, this means helping them to become responsible citizens and successful lifelong learners. 

The programme runs alongside the school curriculum, offering online resources, classes and workshops. It is structured around character-building activities, demanding teamwork and effective communication. Such activities have been shown to increase resilience and confidence in the young people, energising them to actively engage in their communities.

These lessons build up to a popular and motivational nationwide competition, ‘Make It Happen!’.

In a context of accelerated population growth and fast-rising unemployment, Taqaddam is directly addressing the future needs of the next generation in Africa and the Middle East. 

Taqaddam has been developed in close consultation with participants. Due to the success of the ‘Make it Happen!’ challenge, we provided more support workshops o allow more time for young people to embed the initiatives in their communities. 


Taqaddam has reached more than 5,000 students and 346 teachers from over 250 schools since it began in 2015. Over 80,000 resilience-building activities have been recorded on the programme’s online platform 

Taqaddam attracts the investment of whole communities: teachers, parents and friends join in and help to influence the young people’s career and life transition choices.

’I never thought that Taqaddam would have such an impact on my students. It brought out the best in them, and they became more aware about their personalities and what they need to develop. One of my students was shy and couldn’t speak up for herself … She never thought that she could speak to a crowd of strangers about her ideas, but she did it successfully and confidently.’- Teacher of Taqaddam participants, 2018.

The future of Taqaddam

The opportunity now is to build on these many localised achievements, helping young people convert their dynamic projects and the networks they have formed into sustainable futures. 

micro:bit - learning to code

The BBC micro:bit is a tiny programmable computer designed to make learning easy and fun for children. As a founding partner of the micro:bit Educational Foundation, the British Council creates opportunities for young people to learn coding.

The British Council is teaching coding to young refugees in Greece, increasing their confidence and preparing them for life outside the refugee camps. 

Children in libraries across Bangladesh are learning coding through creative play, with workshops organised by Libraries Unlimited, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded project delivered by the British Council.