Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
SDG 4: quality education
World Voice Hong Kong - using music in the classroom
World Voice is the result of a shared vision between British Council and the Swire Group Charitable Trust. It reflects a growing awareness of the potential for singing and music to enrich learning. In Hong Kong, the approach has been used to teach children with special educational needs, with impressive results.
World Voice is a longstanding British Council programme which has been successfully rolled out across 14 countries, including refugee camps in Greece and dual-language classrooms in Wales. It trains teachers who are not specialists in music to raise achievement levels by using singing as a tool for learning. It is a highly viable, transferrable model as it draws on a mode of expression which exists in all cultures and across generations and which has proven social, physical and psychological benefits.
In Hong Kong, the project directly responded to a national drive for more inclusive education and a 'whole school, integrated approach, to enable children with SEN to fully develop their full individual potential’, a policy begun in 1997. The World Voice Hong Kong model has been used to support teachers and pupils to bring about an inclusive classroom community.
World Voice in Hong Kong has succeeded, as elsewhere, in raising levels of engagement and achievement, with pupils scoring significantly higher on language-learning tests. However, teachers and parents also observed a marked improvement in social relations between students, such as as peer acceptance and co-learning, alongside specific improvements in children’s confidence and memory skills.
But perhaps most important of all is the new culture of learning that the programme encouraged, one where everyone can join in at their level and have fun:
‘Learning can be fun and a source of real joy, especially when learning through song!’ - parent whose three children participated in World Voice.
Higher Education Scholarships for Palestinian Academics (HESPAL)
Founded in 2010 in partnership with the Pears Foundation, Higher Education Scholarships for Palestinian Academics (HESPAL) now has several active partners including the Arab Fund. Working closely with 35 UK universities and all of the Palestinian higher education institutions, HESPAL is the only scholarship of its kind in Palestine. The scholarships allow junior academics from across Palestine to study in the UK before returning to their home institution to reintegrate their learning, helping to raise standards in Palestinian universities.
HESPAL works directly towards Sustainable Development Goal 4: quality education, by giving young people opportunities for higher education mobility and training, and promoting collaboration between Palestinian and UK higher education institutions.
HESPAL also addresses the issues underpinning high youth unemployment in Palestine by improving graduates’ critical thinking and leadership skills in readiness for jobs (Bayt, 2015). In these ways HESPAL is furthering the vision of a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable Palestinian society.
As we approach our tenth anniversary, and with over 100 alumni scholars, it is a very exciting time for HESPAL. The scholarship programme started with ten UK and six Palestinian higher education institution partners.
In 2019, we are working with 35 UK institutions, offering 17 PhD and 25 Master’s scholarships. Areas of study range from business, economics and finance to human rights and governance, agriculture, engineering, IT, nursing, environmental sciences and law.
‘Today, my yesterday’s dream is my present. I am preparing myself to serve my country and contribute to its growing education. HESPAL gave me the confidence, skills and motivation to succeed at whatever I do.’ - 2017/18 HESPAL scholar.
The British Council has begun an external three year evaluation of HESPAL.
The future of HESPAL
As a result of the rapid growth of the network, and the collaborations which continue well beyond the scholarships, the British Council would like to create a formalised alumni network which scholars can draw on throughout their lives and careers.
Stay up to date with the programme on the British Council Occupied Palestinian Territories website.
micro:bit - learning to code
The BBC micro:bit is a tiny programmable computer designed for children to make learning easy and fun. As a founding partner of the micro:bit Educational Foundation, the British Council creates opportunities for young people to learn coding.
In Summer 2018, Summer Plus in Spain ran in eight teaching centres helping over 1,800 young people learn English through coding.
We are supporting every primary school across the Western Balkans to strengthen their digital education. By 2021 we will have reached 4,500 primary schools and up to one million children.