Last week I was in Addis Ababa at the invitation of the British Council to review the Peacekeeping English Project (PEP) in Ethiopia. I had discussions at the Ethiopian Ministry of National Defence (EMOND), the British Embassy, British Council and the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission (EFCP). I made a visit to the Air Force base in Debre Zeit and also had the opportunity to observe lessons and talk with regionnal co-ordinators of the project. Many thanks to Peter Hare the PEP Manager and the British Council’s Anteneh Gezaghen for organising an extremely interesting and productive visit.
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 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 has recently returned from Tashkent, where she carried out an evaluation to determine where support is needed for English language teaching in the higher military educational establishments of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Thirteen years ago Claire worked with the Armed Forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan as a trainer on the British Council’s Peacekeeping English Project, so it was a marvellous opportunity for her to see how the English programmes had developed since then. She was delighted to see a number of really positive developments in the quality of the teaching and in the facilities. She also appreciated the chance to be able to work with former colleagues again, and hopes that the outcome of the evaluation will provide them with the necessary support to further enhance their English programmes.
Last week I was in Montenegro evaluating the work of the PELT project, which has been running for three years and is due to finish this time next year. I talked to officials at the MOD and visited the Masline Barracks in the capital, Podgorica. I also made separate trips to the main MOD training centre in Danilovgrad and the Mountain Company in Kolašin. The aim was to see the progress of the teaching and learning of English in the Montenegrin Armed Forces (MAF) and to make recommendations as to what needs to be done before the project closes.
I had very constructive talks with teachers in the system as well as IT specialists, learners and unit commanders. In all the meetings I attended, there was agreement that there has been marked progress in the overall provision of English language teaching and learning for the MAF as compared to 2013 when an initial needs analysis was conducted. My thanks go to Jasmina Alkovic of the British Council who co-ordinated the visit and, especially, all of the teachers and also Lt. Col. Petar Ducic and Capt. Sanja Pejovic of the MOD. It was a thoroughly enjoyable few days.
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.
Alistair is currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo conducting an evaluation of the British Council managed PEP project there. After a few days in Kinshasa, he will be spending the next week at one of the project’s training centres in Kananga. It’s also excellent to see that Claire had a good review of ‘Blended Learning in English Language Teaching: Course Design and Implementation’, the book she edited with Brian Tomlinson in the latest issue of the Cambridge journal ReCALL.
We are all quite busy at the moment. Rob is currently in Algeria training teachers to use coursebooks to their fullest and to create supplementary materials. Claire will be in Chile and Peru for the next two weeks carrying out Quality Assurance and Development visits to Laureate Universities on behalf of Bell Cambridge. The aim is to gain a comprehensive overview of the Universities English language programmes in terms of their quality and to identify areas that require improvement. During her trip she will be visiting Laureate Universities in Santiago, Vina del Mar, Trujillo and Lima. Alistair is preparing for a language testing training course in Ethiopia for the Peacekeeping English Project (PEP). He will be leaving for Addis Ababa at the end of this week. Later in December he will be joining me in China to deliver a language testing course at the China Police Peacekeeping Training Centre in Langfang in Hebei Province.
Claire has recently returned from Kazakhstan where she carried out the second and final phase of the evaluation of the Peacekeeping English Project (PEP). The aim was to determine the extent to which PEP objectives were met during the last financial year and to review the English language training needs of military institutions in the Republic of Kazakhstan in order to plan effectively for the remainder of the project (until March 2015) and possibly beyond. The outcome was a report that summarised the findings and identified ways in which PEP could support the further development of English language training in the institutions that were visited. She was accompanied by two British Council Kazakhstan colleagues and travelled widely during the week she was there, visiting military establishments in Almaty, Astana, Aktobe and Schuchinsk. One meeting was held at the impressive National Defence University in Astana where intensive English courses that follow the American Language Course (ALC) are run.
Here are a few classroom shots I took last week of learners in training rooms at the Ethiopian Ministry of National Defence (EMOND) Peacekeeping Co-ordination Centre in Addis Ababa and at Northern Command in Mekele. It was a very good visit. The British Council and the UK Defence Attaché asked me to look at the progress the PEP project has made since it started in 2008 and to suggest how it might develop in the next few years…
It’s good to know that Alistair’s recent work in Afghanistan is starting to bring results. We are all passing each other at airports at the moment. Alistair has just come back from Pyongyang after evaluating UK-funded education support in North Korea. I am off to Ethiopia on Saturday to review a Peacekeeping English Project and Claire will be travelling to Montenegro on Sunday to start off a three-year project there that we have been planning with the British Council.