The British Council, which is participating in the 7th Annual Gulf Education Conference at the prestigious University of Business and Technology in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 20-21 February, said the council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
“Our purpose is to create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide,” Mohammed Shaiju, a senior British Council official said. “The British Council’s office in Saudi Arabia was established in 1975 in Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobar.”
He said the Council works in four key areas: English, education, arts and society, with a focus on young people.
“Our work in English supports the local Saudi community through English language courses, where we currently teach over 13,000 students a year,” Shaiju said. “We have also set a standard of training teachers through our CELTA courses and English Language Teaching Professional Network workshops, with over 600 teachers attending annually.”
The Council, he said, works closely with schools and universities providing examinations to over 35,000 students a year, as well as enabling 85 international schools to offer the British school curricula, and giving over 30 UK professional bodies the opportunity to offer their qualifications to young professionals in the Kingdom.
“Our work in education and training is at the heart of Saudi Arabia's ambitions to develop its young people to be competitive, and to engage internationally,” he said. “We support the local youth through activities such as the Springboard Women's Development Programme which has helped over 8,000 women fulfil their professional goals, as well as other activities such as Connecting Classrooms.”
Shaiju said British Council supports UK academics and agencies to train Saudi university staff in quality assurance strategic planning and management. “In our arts programme we have helped a new generation of male and female Saudi artists find new ways to be recognised within Saudi Arabia and internationally,” Shaiju said.