The government has announced new funding for overseas teachers to visit UK schools, and will pair up more educators to run “classroom-to-classroom” activities over WhatsApp.
The Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme programme aims to “forge a global understanding of what education can achieve”.
It is an extension of two older projects run by the Department for International Development (DfID), (the Connecting Classrooms programme and the Global Learning Programme), which have worked to build a network of schools around the world in order to share ideas about global issues and different cultures.
The previous programmes gave UK teachers the chance to visit their partner school overseas, but the new scheme introduces the opportunity for reciprocal visits, so that overseas teachers can now come to the UK as well.
Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning will operate in the following countries:
|Sub Saharan Africa||Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
|South Asia||Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, India|
|MENA||Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco|
A virtual partnerships platform for schools that are unable to take part in face-to-face partnerships will also be established, using mobile digital platforms (such as WhatsApp) to enable online classroom-to-classroom activities between teachers and pupils.
The scheme is jointly funded and delivered by the British Council who will contribute £17 million, while DFID will contribute £21 million. It is aimed at children aged between seven and 14 years and schools can sign up through the British Council’s website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme was launched yesterday by current international development secretary Penny Mordaunt, education secretary Damian Hinds and Love Actually director Richard Curtis, who is a UN advocate for sustainable development, at St Joseph’s School in Wandsworth, London.
At the launch event Hinds said: “It is absolutely vital that we share the very best of our education system and learn from the very best of others. Only in doing so will we get closer to forging a global understanding of what education can achieve.”
However the government has run into problem with overseas education schemes in the past.
In 2016, Schools Week reported that a firm running “low cost” private schools in Africa, which was financially backed by an investment scheme that had been launched by then education secretary Justine Greening while she was international development secretary, was being forced to close all its schools in Uganda for failing to meet basic education standards.
The Ugandan government shut the 63 schools run by the for-profit commercial private school chain Bridge International Academies (BIA) for falling short on basic requirements, including adequate hygiene and sanitation.
Greening had been in charge of DfID when the £75 million impact fund was set up and she approved the investment in BIA.