MoU signed with British Council to improve education in Sikkim

Gangtok, 12 Jun:

As part of its efforts to impart quality education in schools of Sikkim, the Human Resource Development Department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Council, India. The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

The MoU has been signed by the Additional Chief Secretary, GP Upadhyaya, who is also the Principal Secretary of HRDD, Government of Sikkim, and Director and Country Head of British Council in India, Alan Gemmell OBE, today here at HRDD conference hall.

The function was also attended by Director of British Council [East and North East India], Dr Debanjan Chakrabarti, Head of English Partnership [British Council-East and North East India], Joydeep Bordoloi, and senior officials of HRDD.

The main purpose of the agreement is to empower young people to realize their potential through collaborative projects in the area of English, education and skills, by strengthening the capacity of the teachers and other professionals, working with youth in the State of Sikkim and also to showcase interventions to support the creative and cultural economy of Sikkim.

The areas of collaboration includes initiatives to support enhancement of teaching skills and awareness of methodology of primary and secondary school teachers of English through a range of programmes on continuing professional development and core skills for teachers along with International School Awards to facilitate shift from rote learning to creative learning and application of international dimension in the curriculum.

The collaboration also has the provision of access to high quality systems of language assessment including IELTS [International English Language Testing System] to help school children and young professionals’ access UK school and professional qualifications to achieve their study and career aspirations and the British Council Aptis testing system to benchmark the language level of teachers, students and professionals.

The areas of collaboration also includes creation of a corpus fund to enable students to undertake higher education in the United Kingdom, capacity building in teaching, learning and research pedagogy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] and Social Science teachers from undergraduate colleges and universities in Sikkim by UK higher education experts along with internship of young faculties at relevant UK Universities, access to the British Council India digital library for students and teachers for their self-development and developing reading habits of children through the UK Reading Challenge programme and jointly promoting and showcasing creative entrepreneurship in the State for increased awareness of the region as a location for investment and partnerships.

It is informed that the agreement will initially be for the period of three years extendable to further two years. Both organisations have already started to design the programme and will start working on the ground in a couple of months.

Speaking during the function, British Council Director, Mr Gemmell, expressed his happiness on working in collaboration with the State of Sikkim. He added that this collaboration will respond to the ambitious vision of the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling to provide quality education in the State. He also mentioned about the British Council and its activities in India.

The Director informed that the British Council is presently working in 12 states of the country. He added that this collaboration of the Council with Sikkim is the first in the north-eastern region. He also expressed his hope to make the Sikkim programme a model that can be replicated in other States of the region.

Additional Chief Secretary informed that the process of collaboration was initiated by the HRDD Minister, RB Subba, after his visit to British Council head office in New Delhi on 17 Apr along with senior officials. It is informed that following the same an academic team of British Council visited 24 schools in all districts from 05-08 June to analyze the needs of the state and design immediate programs of intervention specially focused for Primary level education. The team interacted with school heads, teachers, students and parents and also had an interaction with SCERT and DIET faculty members along with representatives from directorate of Primary Education on 10 June in the SCERT office in Gangtok.

Mr Upadhyaya expressed his happiness on working in collaboration with the British Council. He added that this partnership will also lead the vision of the CM to provide the best and quality education to the students of Sikkim. He also urged the officials of the department to extend their full support and cooperation to the British Council for the success of the programme.