Acting British High Commissioner Sean Melbourne spoke at the launch of the digital hub at Chilanga Primary School. He said;
“The British High Commission recognises the crucial importance of education for Zambia’s future, which is why I am honoured to have been invited to preside at this ceremony today.
“It is increasingly necessary for young people in every country to grow up understanding the opportunities offered by Information Communications Technology, and to acquire the skills to engage with these opportunities. I am therefore pleased to support this re-launch of the digital hub in Chilanga Primary school. This is the result of a strong partnership between the British Council, Airtel Zambia, and the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education.
“The British Council is the UK’s official agency for cultural relations between the UK and other countries, and it has been active in Zambia for over fifty years.
“Connecting Classrooms is the British Council’s international schools programme, which has been undertaken with support from the UK’s Department for International Development. Connecting Classrooms enables young learners to develop the skills they need to become active global citizens. The programme not only gives young people the opportunity to collaborate with their peers in the UK and in other countries, it also contributes to improving education systems worldwide. It involves school leaders, teachers, and policy-makers to embed an international dimension and global citizenship in educational practice and policy across the globe, and it supports professional development for teachers and head teachers.
“The British Council has established a strong partnership with the Ministry of Education in Zambia and has worked with 300 schools from the inception of the Connecting Classrooms programme in 2006. There are currently 105 active partnerships with UK schools. The objectives of the programme include:
i. professional development for teachers and head teachers through school leadership, coaching and mentoring, and ICT
ii. collaborative learning which supports the development of global citizens through joint curriculum projects between schools in the UK and Zambia
iii. Contributing to education policies that support internationalism and respect the contribution of young people
iv. Training a cohort of trainers who can cascade ICT skills in their schools: these digital ambassadors have trained > 1,200 teachers in Zambia so far.
“Digital hubs play a major role in achieving these objectives. Since 2011 the British Council has established 15 digital hubs in Zambia. Importantly, the hubs are not just for the benefit of the host school, but for other schools in the area and the surrounding communities.
“Chilanga Primary is partnered with Wingate Infant Primary School in Durham and is able to interact with its UK partner through the digital hub. In addition, there are online British Council resources from which teachers, pupils and the wider community can benefit. These include interactive resources such as TeachEnglish for English teachers; LearnEnglish for professionals, and LearnEnglish Kids for younger children.
“Airtel is a key partner in the Connecting Classrooms programme. Airtel will provide free internet connectivity to the Chilanga Primary School digital hub, along with the other hubs across the country. I’m confident that the digital hubs will be fully utilised, and that schools and communities will help to sustain them, so that an ever larger number of learners and others are able to benefit.
“I congratulate the partners on their collaboration in this excellent initiative. I look forward to hearing that this vibrant school partnerships programme will continue to develop and to provide valuable opportunities for Zambia’s young people to connect with the world.