While relations go back over six hundred years, with an exchange of letters between King Henry IV of England and Amir Temur, the British Council has been supporting systemic education and cultural relations with the UK for the last quarter of a century, since the signing of formal bilateral agreement with Government of Uzbekistan in October 1996. Major achievements over these 25 years have included:
supporting the establishment of Westminster International University in Tashkent now offering a range of programmes to 4000 students;
the development of modern national pre-service teacher training programme now being delivered in 18 institutions with more than 4000 graduates per year;
the development of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) curriculum now used in 45 state Universities;
a new Quality Culture programme co-created by the London Metropolitan University and the Ministry of Higher and secondary education offered innovative professional development journey to 500 academic leaders annually for 6 years;
a theatre development programme engaging with 75 members of academic staff, 42 theatre professionals and 170 students leading to new voice and movement modules in the curriculum at the Institute of Art and Culture and Uzbek Hamlet production by Uzbekistan arts students reaching the audience of 2350 in Uzbekistan and the UK, in collaboration with Rose Bruford;
first ever UK Contemporary Art education programme and exhibition in Uzbekistan attended by 14000 visitors and engaging through education and media programmes with more than 4 million people.
This year, British Council programmes respond to the national education and culture reform objectives in Uzbekistan and engage with over 700 organisations, directly supports 115,000 individuals and reaches 27m people in Uzbekistan and UK.
Through the Creative Spark higher education programme, the British Council developed 6 UK-Uzbekistan university partnerships that are mainstreaming innovation and entrepreneurial training through curriculum reform and ecosystem development. The Big Idea Challenge and Entrepreneurial University Awards schemes offer higher education students and academics, as well as young entrepreneurs, opportunities to develop and present their project ideas and get recognition for their business start-up or education reform work in their institutions. This programme engages with 11,000 Uzbekistan students directly annually. According to the project beneficiary survey, a total of 92% said Creative Spark had improved their knowledge of the UK creative industries and business environment, and 76% of project participants felt they had already used some of the knowledge or skills gained. As part of the programme, an MoU was recently signed between the University of Central Lancashire and the Tashkent Textile and Light Industry Institute to outline key steps in long-term collaboration in the areas of fashion, design and enterprise. In addition, the first private entrepreneurial university in Uzbekistan has been established in collaboration with London South Bank University – another strategic Creative Spark partner.
The new Going Global partnership programme provides opportunities for governments, national sector bodies, universities, researchers, academics and students to collaborate and partner with the UK. Though working together in mutually beneficial partnerships, the programme aims to contribute to stronger, more inclusive and globally connected higher education systems which support economic and social growth. The programme will include Systemic Innovation Dialogues and Ministerial collaborations, Change Academy for university teams to support their Quality Assurance and graduate-focussed projects. From the new academic year, the programme will have a strong TVET development focus with the aim of improving the quality and efficiency of education institutions and addressing the development of graduates’ soft skills, employability, and community outcomes.
To support wider state school sector reform, the British Council engages with the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan around its Public Education Development Concept 2030 to ensure that the ministry takes an active part in the global debate, including the Education World Forum. The programme includes research around public education vision and strategy, English language teaching in secondary schools and education sector responses to Covid-19 to identify key areas of focus and ensure a holistic approach in the reform.
The British Council plays a convening role as co-chair with the Ministry of the English Reform Steering Group which aims to ensure a holistic approach to teacher education, and to connect the Ministry to influential ELT networks, institutions and professionals. One such reform project, the Future English project, aims to help school graduates to improve their English and offer Continuing Professional Development opportunities to English teachers nationwide through the Online Teacher Community platform. In 2021-22, 2000 English teachers in Uzbekistan will benefit from brand new professional development courses focusing on English for English teachers and Teaching Skills. In 2021 the British Council worked with the Ministry around a national English Curriculum strategy and offered consultancy to develop the strategy and its team. The English Curriculum strategy document will inform all future decisions and plans and the core group of national curriculum writers trained through the project will act as a driving force for all English curriculum reform work nationally.
One of most important aspects of the British Council’s work in the country is giving access to thousands of people to a high-quality international test – IELTS. To respond to national reform in foreign language teaching the Council developed a new Assessment Matters programme that engages with policy makers, teachers and students around this important aspect of reform and initiated IELTS partnership programmes with major universities and education agencies all over Uzbekistan to support exam candidates. There is now a successful partnership project with the State Testing Centre and are offering Aptis for Teachers test that has been used worldwide to assess English language teacher’ English proficiency and to certify teachers at a national level.
This year is the year of Opportunities for Young People in Uzbekistan and the British Council is set to play a key role, along with its partners and networks in the UK and Uzbekistan to create new exciting opportunities for young people to realise their potential and to shape the future.
by Jamilya Gulyamova and Richard Everitt