Cairo, 19 February 2015 – a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed, between the British Council and Al Azhar at the Mashykhah. The MOU, signed by the Grand Imam, Sheikh of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed El Tayyib and Chief Executive of the British Council, Ciarán Devane, will launch the fifth phase of Al Azhar English programme.
This agreement builds on eight years of continuous partnership, in which the British Council – the UK’s international organisation for cultural and educational opportunities - and Al Azhar University have worked together to provide educational opportunities for almost 1000 students. In 2007 Al Azhar University approached the British Council to support them in establishing an English Training Centre (AAETC) for undergraduates of the Faculty of Islamic Studies. The centre provides teacher training to Al Azhar graduates, together with English and specialist courses for undergraduates of Islamic Studies. There are currently 27 teachers including a management team of three providing courses for 750 students.
The AAETC has proved very popular with students, which has led to an expansion of operations that include developing new online resources, such as a new website and Facebook page.
AAETC has also pioneered an ‘English for Religious Purposes’ course that has been designed to complement Islamic studies degrees. The course provides students with the ability to both articulate Islamic teachings learnt at Al Azhar and also correct any misconceptions of the teaching of Islam using English to non-Arabic speaking audiences. Classes take place every two weeks, with students taking six classes every term, in parallel to their regular English classes.
Of the 450 AAETC graduates, 31 have gone on to further study opportunities in the UK helped in part due to their ability to speak English.
In 2010 the project was expanded to include Al Azhar secondary institutes’ Islamic section students. Special English classes were created in schools in 10 governorates to provide more student-centred English teaching methodologies and examinations. A total of 89 English teachers and supervisors have completed a teacher training programme leading to the Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test qualification.
The next phase of the relationship will see the continuation of the British Council’s supervisory role around teaching quality and assessment, together with training and qualifications for teachers in both the ETC and the Institutes.
Commenting on the MoU signing British Council Chief Executive Ciarán Devane, said: “I am delighted to be here in Egypt to sign this Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the British Council, building on nearly eight years of partnership and progress with Al Azhar University. I am also honoured to meet the Grand Imam and to hear his thoughts on the importance of learning English.”
“Through this partnership the British Council and Al Azhar University have provided nearly one thousand young Egyptians with life changing opportunities to learn English, contributing to the promotion of intercultural understanding around the world.”
“Learning English can have a transformational impact on students’ lives opening up opportunities to study and work internationally. Having a revered Islamic institution like Al Azhar using English is invaluable and the British Council is extremely proud of our partnership.”