Category Archives: Education Planning

UNICEF and MoEST move forward with EMI Implementation

St Jude's Primary School, JubaWe are delighted to learn that UNICEF and the South Sudan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) have agreed to move forward with implementation for the Primary English Language Policy plans that we drew up. Our plan was based on an extensive baseline survey we carried out across five of South Sudan’s ten states in 2015. In terms of implementation, there needs to be trained human resources to draw upon to move forward. These resources are English language trainer trainers and English language testers who will be able to provide long-term sustainability of MoESTs EMI ambitions. It is envisaged that these two cadres of professionals will work in tandem, although on two different project strands, towards the same EMI goal.

Stage 1 (Foundation) of the Policy Implementation includes a Needs Survey and Pilot Preparation phases. The first step is planned to be the creation of a cadre of 30 trained teacher trainers because, without teacher trainers, no training, or pilot, is possible. These trained trainers will be responsible for training trainee teachers as described in the Implementation Plan, i.e. teachers at P1-P3, P4-P8 and Specialist EFL teachers.

Back in Bangladesh

Claire has recently returned from her third trip to Bangladesh, which was in connection with the Cadet College English Improvement Project. Having run a training course and overseen an induction programme on her previous visits, this time she was there to collect data for the end of project evaluation that she is conducting. For this purpose, she visited Jhenidah Cadet College and Feni Girls’ Cadet College, spending two days in each. The schedule was intensive yet in each College she had meetings with the Principal, Vice Principal and Project Co-ordinator, carried out lesson observations, and held focus group meetings with teachers and cadets. Overall, she was incredibly impressed by the commitment of the academic staff, the calibre of the cadets, and the facilities that the colleges have to offer.

Claire in Bangladesh 1

Claire would also like to take this opportunity to thank the respective Principals at these Colleges namely, Colonel Mohammad Sadikul Bari, psc and Mrs Jahanara Chowdhury for their kind hospitality. Furthermore, she would like to thank the teachers for their time, and the students for making her feel so welcome. Her thanks also go to British Council Bangladesh, in particular Delower Hossain and Shaon Karmakar, and the Co-ordinators in the respective Colleges namely, Assistant Professor Tareekul Haq, and Assistant Professor Badrun Nahar for ensuring that the programme ran so smoothly during her time in-country.

Claire in Bangladesh 3

Claire in Bangladesh

Publications on Egypt, Nigeria and Blended Learning

We are involved with a number of publications at the moment. The research that Alistair and I conducted into Basic and Secondary education in Egypt has just been uploaded by the British Council. We looked at education from the point of view of ministries, teachers, students, parents and employers in relation to the education goals of the Ministry of Education and the National Curriculum Framework for English as a Foreign Language: Grades 1-12. I will be travelling to London to present the findings at an event on Monday 7th March to help UK stakeholders to learn more about the context for English teaching and learning in Egypt and the current issues, and to strengthen and explore potential partnerships and opportunities for collaboration.  It is similar to a presentation that Alistair made a year ago following research he conducted in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Sphynx 7

I am also putting the final touches to editing a collection of research papers by Nigerian academics, which is due to be published in the next few weeks.

Claire is delighted to learn that one of the chapters she wrote for the British Council publication Blended Learning in ELT: Course Design and Implementation, has been used by Pete Sharma Associates to inform the final unit of their new course on blended learning for language teachers. All at McIlwraith Education wish Pete and his associates the very best with the launch of what promises to be an interesting course. For a free PDF copy of the British Council publication click here and and for more information on Pete’s course go here.

Winding down the Old Year and preparing for the New

We are starting the process of winding down for Christmas and the New Year and getting ready for 2016. I have just sent off the first draft of a set of research papers I have edited to the British Council. These papers are the product of two British Council-managed Hornby Schools that took place in January 2014 and January 2015 on British Council premises in Abuja. The first was led by Dr Eddie Williams, former Professor of Linguistics at Bangor University. The second was led by me. Hornby Schools are run with the support of the A. S. Hornby Educational Trust, UK. The Trust was established in 1961 by A. S. Hornby, popularly known for the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. The schools are recognised as one of the most prestigious activities in the field of ELT. Each year these schools have enabled teachers to develop their expertise and upgrade their English teaching skills.

Participants on the first school were invited to attend the second event. The majority came from Nigeria, but others were from Rwanda and Ethiopia. Most were senior teacher trainers and inspectors at State or National levels. There were also researchers and education specialists from donor-funded projects such as UNICEF and the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN), which is funded through the UK Department of International Development (DFID).

The schools had similar aims: to help course members share and discuss different approaches used by teachers to deal with expectations of an ‘official’ use of English as a language of instruction in situations where teachers may be working with textbooks in an unfamiliar language, have low levels of English, poor literacy rates and a default bilingual delivery including the use of pidgins.

The participants were asked to conduct small-scale research projects to look at aspects of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) in their localities and states in relation to national language-in-education policy. They approached their task from a variety of perspectives and this is reflected in the collection, which will be published online in the New Year.

In January Claire will deliver a week long course on Teaching with Technology to the English language teachers who work in the Macedonian Armed Forces Foreign Language Training Centre.  This work, along with that which Alistair undertook in December on STANAG testing, forms part of the ‘Working towards Sustainability and Interoperability’ project. Two of the project’s deliverables are to provide targeted training for the English language teachers in the Armed Forces and for the STANAG testing team. The main aim of Claire’s course is to present, discuss, and evaluate a number of online tools and mobile apps that can be used for language teaching and learning and to consider firstly whether to and secondly how to integrate them in a principled fashion into the current courses.

Museum Bridge Skopje

Rob will be in Montenegro in January. He’ll be working with teacher and trainers from Montenegro, Macedonia and (possibly) Bosnia and Herzegovina to create a short course on Radio English, which the participants will then team-teach to some students during the week. Rob will also give developmental feedback during that teaching process. The outcomes will be a short course and teachers trained in the process of developing short courses and some peer review on teaching.

We are also very pleased that NATO Allied Command Transformation has approached the Serbian Armed Forces for permission to use the Introduction to Online Learning Moodle course Rob developed for the Serbs in 2014 as part of the PELT Project. The School would like to use the course in the development of its residential two week e-Learning Design, Develop, Deploy course.

Alistair has also been busy. He is finishing off a desk-based needs analysis as part of our work with the UN China Police Peacekeeping Training Centre (CPPTC) in Langfang, just outside Beijing. This has involved research into existing reports and documents and an analysis of responses to questionnaires he developed for returnees from UN missions (particularly Police Peacekeepers deployed to Liberia and South Sudan) and teachers in the CPPTC itself. The aim has been to develop a better understanding of the English language needs of mission personnel and, as a result, develop a more relevant syllabus, course content and materials for them prior to deployment. All of these results will feed into the design of Syllabus and Materials Design courses that Rob and I will deliver in the first half of next year.

In Colombia and Macedonia

Last week I was in Colombia helping shape an English language policy for the Ministry of Defence and Police. This involved working with a policy framework that had been developed by the British Council. The framework has a number of components including management structures, teacher development, testing and assessment and the creation of an information system. The aim is to set in motion the ‘The Minerva Plan’, which is the Colombian Army’s strategic plan that seeks to revolutionise military education so as to ‘bring the army up to international standards’. The Plan is aligned with Colombian Armed Forces objectives as developed by the Strategic Committee for Transformation (CETI) and Innovation and the Strategic Committee for the Design of the Army of the Future (CEDEF). The ambition is that by 2022 some 80% of military personnel will have sufficient English to be trained abroad and perhaps take part in multinational peacekeeping missions abroad. I presented different views on language policies at the annual Expodefensa event in Bogotá and also advised members of the MOD’s language policy management team on how they might implement their policy more effectively.

During this same week, Alistair was in Skopje, Macedonia, helping the MOD’s English language testing team develop their approaches to testing in line with NATO’s standard: STANAG 6001.


Language Policy Advice to the UK and Colombia

The development of language policy is an area that we have had increasing interest in and experience of over the last few years. Following on from our support to the government of South Sudan, Alistair and I have been providing advice to officials from the UK Cabinet Office on the development of a Code of Practice on English language standards of fluency and intelligibility for public sector workers, which is part of a UK government commitment to pass legislation to ensure that every public sector worker operating in a customer-facing role must speak fluent English. This is being carried out in an Immigration Bill, which is currently before Parliament. The Bill has had one general debate in the House of Commons (the Second Reading). The draft Code of Practice is intended to support public authorities to comply with this new legal duty, without creating a significant burden or more red tape.

Hamish at the conference in Colombia

I am also working on the wording of a text outlining the fundamentals of policy as part of the development of an English language strategy for uniformed services in Colombia. The aim is to build up the capacity of the Colombian Armed Forces to participate effectively in national and international missions where English is the medium of communication. This is work that builds on my previous trips to Bogotá; I will be heading out at the end of November to help present the final policy document to a meeting of all stakeholders.

Our South Sudan English Language Policy has been Approved

Alistair and I are delighted that the English Language Policy Framework we developed for South Sudan was approved at a workshop for senior Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) officials on Monday. The policy was accepted unanimously by four MoEST Directors General and over 15 MoEST Directors. The Framework was explained and presented by the Education Minister’s Advisor, Nelson Odur, and was caught on camera and broadcast on the South Sudan Television network in the evening.

Teacher Training in Rumbeck

It has taken a great deal of effort by a team of people over the last six months to reach this stage. We are particularly indebted to David Masua of Windle Trust International and Tizie Maphalala of UNICEF who supported and guided us throughout, and also to our team of field researchers. We are looking forward to working further with both Windle and UNICEF as the policy starts to be implemented. In the picture above, you can see teachers training at an after school session in Rumbeck in Lakes State.

Back from Juba

Alistair and I have recently returned from the third of three visits to Juba where we were completing the text of an English Language Policy Framework for use in Primary schools in South Sudan. This initiative was led by the Intensive English Task Force of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) and directed by the Director General of Quality Promotion, Omot Olok, and Acting Director General of Alternative Education Systems (AES), Nelson Odur. UNICEF, through Tizie Maphalala, Education Manager, and her colleague Paulino Kamba, provided us with valuable feedback. We are particularly indebted to David Masua of Windle Trust International (WTI) who provided guidance throughout.


English is the official language of South Sudan, as well as the Medium of Instruction (MOI) from Primary Four. So, the long-term goal of the English Language Policy is to improve the teaching and learning of English in South Sudan’s primary schools. The framework sets out specific standards in terms of levels of proficiency to be attained by teachers and students in the primary (and secondary) education system. These are defined in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), an internationally recognised and validated set of standards. They focus on English language teachers’ English proficiency within a broader context of English as a MOI, but with a lesser focus on classroom methodology or how a teacher might improve their knowledge of the language itself.

Government documents set the direction for the Policy. The 2012 South Sudan General Education Act states that ‘English shall be the language of instruction in schools’ with the qualification that ‘in early childhood development and Primary 1 through 3 the medium of instruction will be the indigenous language of the area.’ Primary 4 and Primary 5 are transition years in which both Mother Tongue and English are used. By the end of Primary 5 it is assumed that all subjects will be taught in English.

The aim of the English Language Policy is to be as inclusive as possible, particularly taking into account the needs and views of teachers, learners and parents who will be the main beneficiaries of its successful implementation. With this in mind, we have also designed a pilot scheme to test and prove the Policy’s viability before introducing the system at national level.

Ideally a robust English language assessment approach will have to be developed, in tandem with the English Policy, to ensure standards are embedded in the system.

Alistair in Juba

Alistair will be travelling to Juba on Saturday in preparation for a presentation on Monday of the data we have gathered as the first stage of a UNICEF-sponsored initiative in collaboration with Windle Trust International (WTI) to develop a national English language policy framework and implementation guide for primary school teachers in South Sudan. English is the official language of South Sudan, as well as the Medium of Instruction (MOI) from Primary Four. However, with many teachers having acquired their education in Arabic, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoEST) has prioritised raising teachers’ English language and pedagogical skills. This has been started primarily through the Intensive English Language Course (IELC) strand of the Alternative Education System (AES), but it is widely accepted that there is a need to equip teachers, head teachers and inspectors with the competencies and skills for the curriculum to be effectively delivered in English. This needs to be done within a clear national framework. The aim of such a framework would be to develop English proficiency levels of teachers, and their corresponding pedagogical skills, as well as national certification standards.


This framework needs to be based on evidence. So, we conducted a baseline survey in 25 primary schools across five states in South Sudan with the support and co-ordination of MoEST officials, head teachers, County Education Directors, inspectors, teachers and pupils. The purpose of the baseline study was to identify the following:

  • Levels of language proficiency of teachers (measured against the Common European Framework of Reference for languages [CEFR])
  • The teaching methods in use
  • The extent and use of English in classrooms
  • Attitudes towards the English language, more specifically, the introduction of English as MOI in primary schools throughout South Sudan.


The survey was carried out by five field researchers in the form of language reviews, questionnaires, meetings, interviews and classroom observations. Feedback from MoEST and other stakeholders such as DFID, USAID and the British Council will be a crucial and necessary component in the subsequent phases of the development of the framework, related standards and a policy implementation plan with associated teacher assessment and certification criteria.

The Minister of Education will be there to listen and advise us on how to proceed.

Iraq, Edinburgh, Kazakhstan and Serbia

The team is scattered all over the place at the moment. Alistair and I have just returned from Juba where we were training researchers in the first stage of a project to develop a National English Language Policy Framework for the South Sudan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The work is being managed by the Windle Trust and funded through UNICEF. He is off to London to deliver a keynote speech on English in Iraq for the British Council during which he will describe his work there over the last year or so. Mid-week, we will be running a workshop for the MSc TESOL Testing Group students at Edinburgh University. Claire is currently in Astana, Kazakhstan, delivering training for Cambridge Assessment and Rob will be off next week to continue our support in developing the Peacekeeping English Project in Serbia.