British hand for Yemeni education [Archives:2006/999/Local News]

November 16 2006

SANA'A, Nov. 14 ) In a visit to Yemen the director general of the British Council said education is a top priority for the council's work in Yemen.

Restarting the training centre that previously provided English classes and teacher training to international qualifications for English teachers is one of the major projects of Sir David Green, director general of the British Council.

“The training centre has two sections; the first is teacher section that offers high quality English teachers for people to learn English. The second section is a training section to provide training for English teachers to get international qualifications,” said Elizabeth White, the director of British Council in Yemen.

Green was on hand to open the new British Council exhibition, The Looking Glass. It is an exhibition of arts photographs of aspects of contemporary Muslim life in the United Kingdom and Yemen, by British and Yemeni photographers. The exhibition opened in Nov. 6 at the National Museum. Some of The Looking Glass photographs had been featured in the British Council's major Middle East touring exhibition, Common Ground.

During his visit he met Foreign Minister Abubakr Al-Qirbi and Minister of Education Abdusalam Al-Jawfi to discuss British-Yemeni co-operation, particularly in education.

“We reached to an agreement with the Ministry on a project providing assistance with plans to introduce English to curriculum to the primary level; from level four to six,” said Green.

“We face two obstacles here in Yemen. The first is security, as it is known there several members of Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Moreover, kidnapping foreigners create another obstacle for us. But now the situation is different and we feel more secure. The second obstacle is perception of Yemenis about Britain. I am pleased of being here in Yemen as well as of the hospitality of Yemenis.”

As an artist Green said he reserved the last day to paint, “Painting for me is more than a hobby. It is a part of my daily life that I can express my feelings through”.

Green has been the director general of the British Council since 1999. Since his appointment, the organization has focused on working with younger audiences in achieving its objectives of building mutually beneficial relationships between people in the UK and other countries, and in increasing appreciation of the UK's ideas and achievements internationally.

Green's professional background is in development, education and the voluntary sector. He was Director of Voluntary Service Overseas from 1990 to 1999. Previously, he held posts at Save the Children Fund and started his career as a school teacher. He was born in 1948. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and of the Arts. He was knighted in 2004 and made a Freeman of the city of Freetown in the same year. A keen supporter of the theatre, the arts and an amateur painter, he is also a Director of the Royal Court Theatre.

The council's work includes teaching English, running information centers, promoting British education and training, working closely with governments and NGOs on reform and good governance and demonstrating the innovation, creativity and excellence of British science, arts literature and design. The Chevening Scholarship is one their annual projects to give students an opportunity to study in the UK. Such projects strengthen the relationship between Yemen and Britain. It started in November and it will last until Nov.22. for Yemeni students.

“Selected Yemeni students fulfill their task much better than the other students around the world,” said Green.

The criteria of selecting students as Raja'a Bazara, a project manager stated, “When selecting students, we pay a lot of attention to students' educational background and qualification, work position, experience and their English language. All these criterion play an important role in selection. Most of the students are very keen and fulfilling their potential. Further we offer students English Language Testing System in order to get the admission. Lastly the students are interviewed by British Ambassador and we get the number down to around ten to twelve.”