UK set to boost education ties with Bahrain
Manama, July 7, 2010
The UK is stepping up its activities in Bahrain with increased investment in arts and education.
British officials also hope to almost double the number of Bahrain schools linked with those in the UK.
Plans to increase ties were revealed by British Council chief executive officer Martin Davidson, who spoke to the Press during his first visit to Bahrain.
He said such co-operation was vital if Bahrain was to achieve goals laid out in its Vision 2030, which outlines the future development of the country.
'Vision 2030 speaks of a highly educated, talented workforce,' he said at the British Council, Manama.
'To support that, Bahrain will need young people with English, young people with technical skills and young people with international skills.
'So I think there is a big opportunity for the British Council to make sure that the UK is part of that future for Bahrain and that Bahrain is part of the future for the UK.'
He revealed the British Council was expanding its operations here to keep pace with development.
'We are putting a lot more resource here, we have just refurbished the building, expanded the teaching and have got plans to build a stronger British Council presence here in Bahrain,' he said.
'As an organisation, we have had a strong presence for a long time, but I think Bahrain is developing very rapidly and I think we have to respond to that.'
The British Council's plans include an expansion of its network of English language teachers working in government schools, as well as more tie-ups between Bahraini and British schools.
'We have about 10 to 15 school links between schools in Bahrain and schools in the UK and would like that to be at least 20 in the coming year,' said Davidson.
Such links allow online interaction, joint projects and the physical exchange of teachers and students designed to offer mutual benefits - including increased awareness and understanding of each country's culture.
Last year, seven Bahraini teachers visited partner schools in the UK.
'We want to expand the number of Bahraini students going to the UK and UK students coming to Bahrain,' said Davidson.
'Higher education links between Bahrain and the UK have been developing over a period of time, there are about 25 joint programmes between universities in Britain and universities in Bahrain.'
In addition, he said the British Council hoped to step up its investment in art and museums in Bahrain - highlighting the regional arts exhibition 'My Father's House', which toured the Middle East for a year from February 2009 - as a prime example.
'What was great about it was there was the collaboration, we want to constantly get into this collaboration and get young artists working with young artists from the two countries,' said Davidson.
'That produces something very exciting and we will be looking to expand those ideas next year.'
The British Council was established in Bahrain in 1959 as a cultural relations organisation.
About 7,500 students enrol in English courses at the British Council each year and the organisation runs 9,000 exams annually.-TradeArabia News Service
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