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Building ELT Research Capacity in India August 12, 2013

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In late July  I completed a week-long consultations tour at the invitation of the British Council India, visiting two locations – the English and Foreign Languages University (EFL-U), Hyderabad, and the Central Institute of Education, Delhi University.

The aim of my visit was to initiate a three year (2013-16) project plan for an ELT Research Survey of India, adapted from the UK ELT Research Directory (a British Council funded initiative for which I have been the primary consultant). The proposed Survey will, for the first time, bring information about ELT research in India onto a single, fully-searchable online platform. While The British Council is the prime mover behind this project, work is in progress regarding a multilateral partnership between Warwick University, EFL-U and Delhi University in the first phase, and growing in subsequent phases with British Council contribution and management tapering off in a planned manner.

ELT in India: Consultations in Delhi

ELT in India: Consultations in Delhi

Consultations with EFLU and other South India-based ELT academics

Consultations with EFLU and other South India-based ELT academics

This visit follows on from a preliminary desirability and feasibility study that I undertook in February 2012. During the trip just completed we made very substantial progress in terms of:

  1. securing firm commitments from key partner organisations and individuals
  2. formation of an academic core team with participants from EFL-U and Delhi University
  3. project planning for all three years of the programme.

This visit included consultations with over 30 leading academics in ELT from seven key ELT and Education organisations across India (with two joining the Hyderabad consultations and the other five the Delhi one).

Debanjan Chakrabarti, Head of English Research and Publications for the Council in India, also secured an important meeting with Dr Jagdish Arora, Director of INFLIBNET (the library network that connects all HE institutions in India). He immediately saw the merit of the project and offered to host it on the INFLIBNET server, subject to a MoU /contract that is also ratified by his organisation.

In addition to the core project consultations and planning, I also conducted a series of capacity building and mentoring symposia – two in Hyderabad (one for 40 Ph D and M Phil students, and one with research supervisors) and one in Delhi, jointly with Professor Rama Mathew, Dean and Head of the Department of Education / Central Institute of Education, for 30 PhD/ M Phil students and academics. Prof Mathew and I had previously made the final recommendations for the first ELT Research Partnership Awards, the results of which were publicly announced on 29 July.

The talk has been recorded and will be edited and shared on the British Council India website as part of capacity building support for ELT research and also to provide guidance for the next round of ELTRP Award applicants.

Hyderabad's iconic Charminar

Hyderabad’s iconic Charminar

It was evident from my consultations with academics and other leading ELT professionals, from evaluating the ELTRP applications and from conversations with research students in ELT and Education that there are pressing needs for support and research capacity building in the field of ELT in India which the British Council is beginning to fill.

By Richard Smith, University of Warwick

Mohit Chauhan: The face of World Voice Programme April 15, 2013

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The World Voice Project was launched in India with a four-day workshop on singing was held from 14 to 18 March 2013 at the N.I.E. Auditorium in the N.C.E.R.T. Campus, New Delhi. The workshop was led by Mr Richard Frostick (Artistic Director, World Voice project) and Mr Mohit Chauhan (Musician and Indian World Voice Champion), with around 70 participants including, school students (age groups 9-11), school music teachers and independent music trainers from various public and private schools across Delhi in India.

The World Voice Programme is a pioneering initiative between the British Council and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). It endeavours to promote arts in school education and uses music through singing to support the development of musicality and contribute towards a wider learning. It will promote sharing of British expertise in singing education with classrooms globally and to promote an exchange of skills, knowledge and understanding between all participating countries; support colleagues from around the world who wish to learn more about singing leadership techniques; provide a network where countries can forge long-lasting working relationships; provide resources which teachers and young people can use in the classroom; and last but not the least, celebrate singing as a fundamental global expressive art.

During the much enjoyed workshop sessions, the school children learnt six English songs well as a Hindi song, ‘Morni’ (a Himachali folk song from the western Himalayas) taught by Mr Mohit Chauhan. The other Hindi song, unanimously selected by the participants was ‘Saare Jahan se Accha’. The sessions were joyful, lively and interesting as Mr Richard Frostick, employed a step- by- step approach to explain the background as well as the geographic, historic or cultural context of each song. In addition to this, he emphasized on correct body posture; proper breathing; voice modulation and accuracy in pronunciation. The students were fascinated with the new words and phrases that they learnt while learning the songs.

During the interactive sessions, the teaching techniques and learning experiences were discussed and exchanged by the school music teachers and the music trainers. Richard emphasized on integrating music into the curriculum, for which he felt lesson planning was necessary. He stressed on ‘learning to be fun for the children’.

Post workshop, Mohit who never had any formal training, said that “music has a way of doing things with people”. He also remarked that he was delighted to teach kids as they picked up lyrics and tune of a Himachali folk song within two hours.

It is interesting to know that the idea for the World Voice project grew in the UK with one goal: to promote learning through music and, in the process, connect classrooms around the world. Cathy Graham, Director Music, British Council, who has 14 years of professional experience in music, said, “Singing is a joyful experience. If you start it young, you have it for life. We would like the World Voice Programme to leave a legacy such that perhaps 10 years from now, children of one country are happily singing the traditional songs of another. They are all doing it without knowing why.”

So, would you agree if we say that such is the magic of music as it connects people globally by transcending the physical limits and connect directly with you? Share your views with us.

HUM_7026

Learnings and Reflections August 28, 2012

Posted by shonaliganguli in General, Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century.
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Contributor: Ayush Surana, participant at the Edinburgh Youth Summit Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century 

There is certain beauty about the very air of the city of Edinburgh.
When you walk the beautiful cobbled streets, on a clear sunny day with
the castle looming up in the distance, you feel very much a part of
the extraordinary culture of this place.

The first day , talking to Dr. Crispin Bates I realized that there is
a fascinating perspective to the history of the East India Company ,
the freedom struggle in India and its implications in the formation of
the UK ! It was an eye-opener for me to understand how our education
system needs to be revamped so that we incorporate all aspects and
perspectives of our history. History should be objective and not a
skewed account.

The very same day we visited the Scottish Museum, and talked in depth
about the art of curation. The most interesting aspect for me was
pointed out by Dan. Talking about accessibility to an object in a
museum and using it as a metaphor to raise the question about how much
exposure to a culture is too much, and when does this exposure start
becoming a threat to the soul of the culture?

Talking in a broader perspective, in an increasingly connected world,
this question raises a few more valid ones, about the sort of exposure
we are getting as individuals and as a society.

Lunch that day, was cold rolls, something which I definitely didn’t
take a fancy to! But I will always fondly remember the times spent in
making dinner together, where we had a delicious fusion of Indian and
British cuisine. A simple platform called cuisine bringing nations
together! The night of Biryani and the Banofee Pies.

Our visit to National gallery presented another fresh insight into the
Scottish culture and heritage. The fact that an entire section was
dedicated to portraits on Pakistani families settled in Scotland spoke
volumes of the kind of cultural and racial tolerance observed in
Scotland and I found myself respecting this Nation even more!

Discussions over the next days highlighted the need for bringing in a
more holistic approach on educational exchange, need for visa reforms
and greater cultural and sports ties between the two nations.

Being a firm realist, I believe that time takes away a lot of our
memories, and sadly also a lot of our leanings. What we always do have
however are moments. Moments which we cherish and always carry with
us.

Every day being a part of a close knit group of young dynamic minds
from two different parts of the world, discussing issues that really
matter to the world and brainstorming together, going on the
‘scavenger hunt’ and sharing some great laughs in the process, to
watch in delight at the wonderful performances happening all over the
beautiful city, and finally on the last day congratulating each other
on pulling off a great presentation which we built together as a team.

Looking back, I am filled with warmth at sharing such great moments
with a bunch of wonderful people. I am grateful to be a part of such a
project and I believe these moments shall always play a pivotal role
to drive me to always consciously think of the India-UK relationship
and how I can contribute towards reimagining our future. As my dear
friend Owen rightly said at the end of our presentation

“Sometimes you cannot do everything but you can do something”

Cheers to a great new future.

For more blogs visit http://reimagineyouth.posterous.com/

British Council India launches international research on education change management May 21, 2012

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I write this on the morning flight from Calcutta to Delhi, on my way to the national launch of our global research publication on English language, Managing Change in English Language Teaching: Lessons from Experience, edited by Dr Chris Tribble.

Am lucky to have a window seat. On a clear summer day like this the vast Gangetic plain lies spread out like pages on an open atlas. The snow-capped Himalayan peaks, Mt Everest among them, masquerade as clouds that fringe the far horizon.

As

I fly over West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on my way to Delhi, I cannot help but think that what lies beneath is one of the most densely populated human habitations not only in India but perhaps the whole world. And that the British Council has substantial English language projects in two of these three states – in Bihar and in West Bengal.

Over the next few days, as this itinerant launch programme travels from Delhi to Chennai to Patna and culminates in Chandigarh, we will be taking a hard look at critical questions on education change and demonstrating the value of project interventions to all manner of stakeholders. At each stop, the panel will feature Dr Tribble and joined by several leading policy makers, ministers of education, academics, consultants, NGOs, funding agencies.

The key areas of our enquiry at each stop will be clustered around the four major strands raised in the book:
•Policy and Design
•Implementation
•Monitoring and Evaluation
•Embedding and Dissemination
There will be lessons for all of us in these discussions and I suspect that at each stop there will be more issues added to the agenda.

The book itself comes at a time of great change and even greater expectations in the public provision of education in India, against the backdrop of intense debates on the implications of Right to Education Act and an increasing attrition of pupils from free government schools to fee-paying private schools, almost all of them flaunting an ‘English medium’ badge. The compilation looks at the larger issues of education change and management through the prism of language teaching and many of the conclusions drawn have far wider practical application than just English language teaching.
Managing Change will be launched at the following locations in India:
City Date Venue For invitation contact
Delhi Mon 21 May British Council
nataasha.southwell@in.britishcouncil.org

Chennai Tue 22 May Hyatt Regency
kumaran.sriram@in.britishcouncil.org

Patna Wed 23 May Hotel Chanakya
Joydeep.bordoloi@in.britishcouncil.org

Chandigarh Fri 25 May Hotel Marriott
bipin.kumar@in.britishcouncil.org

The panellists in Delhi are:
Dr Christopher Tribble, King’s College London (editor of the volume)
Dr Rukmini Banerjee, Director, Pratham ASER Centre
Prof Rama Mathews, University of Delhi (she is also a contributor to the volume)
Colin Bangay, Senior Education Advisor, DFID India
Clare Woodward, Open University UK (also a contributor to the volume, by videoconference)
Mike Solly, Lecturer, Open University UK (also a contributor to the volume, by videoconference)
Chair: Alan Mackenzie, Senior Training Consultant, British Council India

The panellists in Chennai are:
Dr Christopher Tribble
Clare O’Donahue, British Council Senior Training Consultant and contributor to the volume
Dr Kannappan
Mr Sundaraman
Dr V Bharathi Harishankar
Chair: Nirupa Fernandez, British Council Head English and Examinations, South India

A hard copy version of the book will be made available to all those who attend the event.

About the editor

Dr Christopher Tribble is a lecturer in Applied Linguistics at King’s College London. He has worked as a classroom language teacher in the public and private sectors in France, China and the UK, and has extensive experience as a manager and evaluator of English language projects, and as a project management trainer.
Chris also has a column in the Guardian called Weekly Words: http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/tribble
Chris Tribble’s current major activities include:
the development of a photographic archive of the work of the Teatr Polski in Warsaw
a photographic and documentation of the work of community groups associated with the new King’s Place Arts venue in London’s King’s Cross.
Chris Tribble is also a documentary photographer and provides a comprehensive photographic documentary service for organisations involved in education, social development and performing arts.
More on Christopher Tribble at http://www.ctribble.co.uk/
For more information on Managing Change launch programme in India or if you interested in contributing to the dialogue on managing change in education, write to Debanjan.Chakrabarti@in.britishcouncil.org

What Would Dickens Write Today – Neel Mukherjee February 17, 2012

Posted by arnabbanerjee87 in Dickens 2012, General, What Would Dickens Write Today.
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Neel Mukherjee’s first novel, A LIFE APART (PAST CONTINUOUS in India), won the Vodafone-Crossword Award for Best Fiction in 2009 and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Fiction in 2010. His second novel, The Lives of Others, is out in 2013.

Photocredit - Daniel Hart                 Photo credit – Daniel Hart

How could we ever have failed to imagine this marriage? Dickens and India. Just think of the correspondences: of sentimentality, of the impulse towards tear-jerking, of wild unreality in the texture of realism. Who, in moments of lucidity, has not agreed with Wilde on what was, by general consensus, the most unbearably moving moment in his 1841 novel, The Old Curiosity Shop: ‘You would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the death of little Nell’?  All the things that he took a scalpel to in Victorian England – poverty, child labour, the chasm between the haves and the have-nots, labyrinthine judicial processes, power exercised by an Old Boys’ network, the casual and entrenched cruelty of the powerful to the powerless  – flourish with sick fecundity in the hothouse of India. In a sense, a lot of what enraged him, and provided the motor for his writing, has disappeared from theEngland (and theLondon) he knew: the slums and the squalor, the all-too-visible human costs of the Industrial Revolution that poweredEngland’s resurgent economic growth, the seething social ills. Where do you think these things still obtain?India would have kept Dickens at the hot edge of inspiration and in material for several lifetimes. 

It is generally thought that the magical realism that marks the writings of Latin American writers developed as a response to represent in literature the surreality of politics and day-to-day life in Central and South American nations. If one were feeling charitable towards Dickens, as one feels somewhat bound to on his bicentenary year, that could serve as well an explanation as any for all those things in his novels that are so at home in a B- or C-grade Indian mainstream film or television drama – the wild and incredible coincidences, the tendency towards caricature in characterisation, the wishful endings.  That typical irreality in a Dickens novel – how well it answers to the Indian condition, the condition that is both a cause (the social and political situation) and an effect (as represented in cultural forms).

Consider this particular scenario, serialised, appropriately enough for a present-day Dickens novel, in a literary magazine, one of those rare corners where book-serialisation still thrives. A political party has sucked dry the lifeblood of the state in which it has been in power for three decades. Its early days of progressive land reforms are far behind it. The economy has changed; the future is not an agrarian economy any longer. Banging the anti-industrial drum has got the party the rural vote bank but the world is changing. That same tune, played relentlessly, has robbed the state of investment, encouraged an infamous ‘flight of capital’, made it an untouchable zone for industrialists, businessmen, blue-collar jobs. It has been falling falling falling for decades, it has become a byword for retrogression. For a state that still boasts of a Renaissance in learning and culture in the nineteenth century and likes to think of itself as the intellectual and creative powerhouse of the nation, its crucial development indicators, such as infant mortality rate, child nutrition, child immunisation (think of the possibilities in a Dickens novel here – slums, starving children, seething poverty), are lower than those of the neighbouring state, one traditionally thought of as the Heart of Darkness. Oh, the ironies of history.

The people, tired of stagnation, negative prospects of any kind of economic development or growth, rigged elections, the micro-rule of political goons, the impossibility of moving forward in any domain in their lives, have become restless and refractory. Into this cesspit arrives a rabble-rousing politician, promising the one thing that the people want: Change.  Every single bone in her body a populist one, she has promised to industrialise the state, thus creating sorely-needed jobs in the organised sector. Yet she has made her name chasing some prominent industrialists out of the state. How is she going to move forward? And why would the local power-brokers from the previous government, the public sector unions, teachers’ associations, the ‘dadas’, battened on thirty years of influence and power, allow her to erode their privileges? There are signs of an attempt to get out of this complete gridlock: playing Tagore songs at traffic junctions, initiating a public debate on tinkering with the name of the state. Think of the vast cast of characters as Dickens gets down to anatomise the different, clashing worlds, the hypocrisy and the festering stasis. Think of the fertile soil for some good old Dickensian caricaturing; admittedly, more the domain of the cartoonist than the novelist, but the situation is so rich, so inviting, that it demands it. The title of this novel? Great Expectations. Maybe even Bleak House.

Meanwhile, in the country at large, the coalition ruling party is mired in one corruption scandal after another; not your usual hands-in-the-till stuff (though there’s that too, in relation to an international sport festival) but on an industrial scale, costing the exchequer billions. But the main opposition party decrying this and demanding all kinds of anti-corruption measures, the party of the religious fundamentalist right, as it happens, has just had to depose a sitting Chief Minister of their party for his active, prolonged and leading role in mining and land acquisition corruption in a state down south; once again, the sums involved are tens of billions.  As if this were not enough, ministers from this very party, hysterically vocal about morality and corruption, have just been caught watching porn on their cellphones during a session of the State Assembly. And what’s this one called? Why, Hard Times, of course. 

Tolstoy, who had Dickens’s portrait on his wall, declared him the greatest nineteenth-century novelist; he would have been an even sharper twentieth- or twenty-first-century one.

Anita Nair – What Would Dickens Write Today February 17, 2012

Posted by arnabbanerjee87 in Dickens 2012, General, What Would Dickens Write Today.
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We do not choose the world we write about. Most often than not, we write about what is the temple of our familiar. We locate our stories in the world that we believe we have a rare understanding of. A world that we internalize to an extent that it seeps into our every breath and thought. For only then can we recreate on paper that world with almost the life force it pulses with.At first the urban landscape failed to stir me. Even the books I read were based in quiet villages and small towns. To me, they offered a harmony between man and land strewn with a wealth of sub-plots. And so this became the landscape that I wished to set my novels in. In the books I wrote I sought to narrate the stories of people who would inhabit such a world.

And then a little over eighteen months ago, I decided to write my first true urban novel. It would be a novel dictated by the city as much as the characters. I had a choice of two cities. Chennai where I had grown up, Bengaluru where I lived. The danger of locating it in Chennai was to be swamped by nostalgia. And I wanted this to be an edgy piece of writing with no room for sentiment or memory.

In Bengaluru that has been my home for the last two decades, I sought a world that was far away from what is commonly perceived to be Bengaluru ─ The glittering cityscape of the IT companies, the orderly lives of the middle class, the joggers, the parks, the hi-rises and the international brands─. For I was certain that somewhere within Bangalore was another city that would be mine,  as London had been for Dickens. In fact, as the narrator of Dickens Master Humphrey’s Clock suggests, I too would have to ‘draw but a little circle above the clustering housetops, …have within its space everything, with its opposite extreme and contradiction close by.’

One evening as I drove through Shivaji Nagar, I had a moment of epiphany. For twenty years, I have driven through its narrow roads strewn with shops that dealt in everything from nuts and bolts to automobile spare parts to old newspapers to meat, vegetables, fruit and  flowers to clothes and shoes… My eyes had paused at the doorways here and there on the streets. No one would realize what lay behind the doors. That the narrow corridor flared into a small square courtyard and around it was a warren of two room tenements. Clotheslines would be strung in the courtyard and on a corner would be a couple of brick stoves, so each household could make its own hot water to take to the two bathrooms that was all there was for everyone who lived there. When it rained, the road turned into a stream of fast flowing dirty brown water in which garbage floated. To open the main door of the house was dangerous then. There was no knowing what would float in. An old tyre or a single chappal or a dead bandicoot.

I had trawled the streets of Sivaji Nagar with more the curious eye of a tourist rather than the calculated gaze of a writer. But that particular evening, I knew a sense of preordination. Was it the whiff of meat cooking or the sight of a raggedy group of children nibbling at cotton candy or was it the dying sun reflected in a window pane? I thought then of Dickens writing of his London. ‘The amount of crime, starvation and nakedness or misery of every sort in the metropolis surpasses all understanding.’

Over the next few months as I made countless forays into this Dickensian world within modern metropolitan Bangalore, I glimpsed it again and again: How late in the night the Shivaji Nagar bus stand area was still simmering with activity. Of a certain excitement that resonated through the alleys and lanes. Even the vendors had their carts edged along the roads. The smell of meat cooking on charcoal mingled with the aroma of samosas being fried in giant vats of hissing oil. Chopped onions and coriander leaves, pakodas and jalebis, strings of marigold and jasmine buds, rotting garbage and cow dung. The high notes of attar. The animal scent of sweat and unwashed bodies.

Men of all sizes and shapes trawled the alleys. Some seeking a hot kebab to sink their teeth into; some seeking a laugh, a suleimani in a glass and a smoke. There were men looking for a fuck and men looking to be fucked. Men returning home from work. Policemen on the beat. Autorickshaw drivers and labourers. Whores. Eunuchs. Urchins. Beggars. Tourists. Regulars.

A composite cloud of a thousand fragrances and needs in that shadowed underbelly of the city.

So when I chose to locate my novel in this world, I was only seeking to replicate what Dickens may have sought to write if he were alive and writing of Bangalore. An inner city that to most people didn’t even exist. ‘A black shrill city… a gritty city…a hopeless city, with no vent in the leaden canopy of its sky.’

The inner lives of characters needn’t always be located in their monologues. When everyday is a struggle to survive, when to claim a shred of humanity from bestial surroundings demand more than you can give, what place then for angst or soul-searching? Sometimes the very world they inhabit has the unique ability to postulate their inner self.

Humanity, shorn of high art and culture, stripped of its veneer of education and polish, is redefined here ‘amidst this compound of sickening smells, these heaps of filth, these tumbling houses, with all their vile contents, animate and inanimate, slimly overflowing into the black road,’ Of what it is to be human – complex, vulnerable, resonating with goodness and evil – is most evident where human life has little or no value.

Dickens recognizedthis perhaps more than any other writer ever did.

 Anita Nair is the author of  The Better Man, Ladies Coupe and Mistress. Her books have been translated into over 30 languages around the world. Her new novel is Lessons in Forgetting.

Publishing Next: Day One, Session 1 September 16, 2011

Posted by dcfrombc in English for Progress, General, Young Creative Entrepreneur.
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The conference kicked off with a stimulating panel on “Where Are Digital Books Headed?”, chaired by Jaya Bhattacharji Rose and Radhika Menon (Tulika Books), Pratibha Sastry (JiniBooks and JiniLabs), James Birdle (Bookkake, London Lit Plus) and Kailash Balani (Aditya Books, Balani Infotech).

Radhika Menon shared a fascinating presentation on how Tulika has colloborated with several partners to create content and provide techn0logy solutions to bring books closer to children in a socially meaningful way. “Just clickability is not enough”, she said. Was really taken by the multilingual dimension of Tulika’s work.

Pratibha spoke about her own varied experience in the entertainment industry and mentioned the runaway success of Amanda Hopkins in retailing her own e-books.  Kailash Balani mentioned MHRD’s plan to provide e-books to over 20,000 colleges in India, while James Bridle compared the UK and US e-book markets through the contrasting rise to fortune of Amazon’s Kindle in the UK and Barnes and Noble’s Nook in the US.

Was really struck by James’ passion for the idea of the book and the parallel he drew between the identity and wonership issues about e-books and real books.

Posted by Debanjan Chakrabarti.

 

Real pity

I’m now a thoroughly converted Active Citizen September 8, 2011

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Prashant Singh of Ulfah Arts, Birmingham, one of our participants at the Active Citizens Workshop held recently in Mumbai writes:

 

Some say that variety is the spice of life and I couldn’t agree more after attending the five-day Active Citizens Facilitators Training held at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, from 23rd July to 29th July 2011. I have been active in the international development scene for quiet a while now and I was expecting another useful but bog standard training event which will not only give me skills in becoming a better workshop facilitator, but will also help me become a part of the world-wide Active citizens community. I couldn’t have been far from the truth! The five days i spent at TISS helped me to not only formulate a better way of working in the third sector but it also gave my belief in the importance of social work a new lease of life. The people, the stories and the real-life examples of social empowerment were only the tip of the iceberg, and before i knew I was surrounded by pioneers of south Asian social sector, rich conversations developing real projects, strong opinions challenging anything which went against the benefit of the masses, and real people who don’t just do social work, they live it!

 

Actors, Directors, literacy workers, respected academics, forum theatre practitioners – almost everyone in the group had a unique skill set which complimented the needs of the group and i can only credit that to the amazing work by a well organised British Council team. Each and everyone invited by BC absolutely deserved to be there and as if like cogs of a wheel each one of us was important to the five day training in some way or the other! The two facilitators – Mike and Dan did an amazing job at bringing the group together as one cohesive force and seek real solutions to the social problems around us. It was their exercises; energizers and team activities, which really help us, nurture hive thinking. By the end of the training almost everyone had a full idea of what they want to do with the training and how the relationships we had formed during the five days in Mumbai could help each other achieve development goals .

 

I’m now a thoroughly converted Active citizen and I’m looking forward to training a further 30 in Birmingham, UK. It was a really good experience, one people might call ‘life affirming’ and I look forward to developing social empowerment projects in India, Pakistan,BangladeshandSri Lankawith the help of my new-found NGO family!

 

Well done to the entire BC team behind the Active citizens project, you guys are accumulating some decent karma, keep it up! :-)”

 

Kick-off for Kolkata Goalz July 21, 2011

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On a hot and rainy July afternoon inKolkata,UKForeign Minister Jeremy Browne kicked a football into a muddy field at Shibtala community ground in Topsia, one of Kolkata’s more deprived neighbourhoods. For the three hundred youngsters who had gathered there, it marked the beginning of a chance to change their lives through the game.

Minutes later, Madan Mitra, Hon’ble Sports Minister, Government of West Bengal, Sovan Chatterjee, Hon’ble Mayor of Kolkata and Rob Lynes, Director British Council India took turns to kick balls to the coaches and young people on the ground, signalling the launch of Kolkata Goalz, an inspirational initiative by the Premier League and British Council to encourage young people from across Kolkata to aim for a more positive future.

Kolkata Goalz is a new strand of the Premier League and British Council’s hugely successful Premier Skills programme, which uses football as a tool to engage with and develop the skills of young people. It is inspired by and modelled on the groundbreaking Kickz programme in theUK, a partnership between the Premier League and Metropolitan Police that targets youth at risk in deprived parts ofUK.

In Kolkata, the project has been launched by the Premier League and the British Council with the Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, All India Football Federation and Indian Football Association (West Bengal) in association with six Kolkata Premier League Football Clubs, who will directly be involved in the delivery of the project. The six Premier League Clubs are Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, East Bengal Club, George Telegraph Sports Club, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Police Athletic Club and United Sports Club. Children’s charity Future Hope will support the project in an advisory capacity.

This is a project for young people in difficult areas. Youngsters in the age group of 12 – 18 years will join the programme. The youth, identified by the police, are those at risk, and in some of the most deprived parts of the city.

Kolkata Police have selected six neighbourhoods in Kolkata where the project will be piloted and helped in selection of the youths. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation is providing the ground and infrastructure for the project in these areas.

The clubs have provided their most experienced coaches who will train the young people in the neighbourhoods, thrice a week round the year in the evenings in football and engage with them in a range of other constructive activities.

The coaches involved in the programme underwent a three-day Induction training with Rubel Ahmed from the Active Communities Network and Michael Nyarko, the Social Inclusion Manager of Crystal Palace Football Club, both of who work with the Premier League.

In this intensive but fun training programme the coaches focussed on the essence of community sports, worked on a delivery plan, learned through role play about engaging, challenging and mentoring hard to reach young people and techniques of developing volunteers. The trainers also stressed on the importance of monitoring and evaluation to measure success.

“In this room we are all experienced football coaches but you have opened our eyes to social inclusion through community sports. We will try our best to apply the learning in the training sessions with the young people,” said Kalyan Chaubey, former Mohun Bagan and India goalkeeper, speaking on behalf of the Indian coaches while thanking the trainers.

Speaking at the launch, Rob Lynes, Director British Council India thanked the partners for joining hands to achieve the key objectives of the project.

R K Pachnanda, Commissioner of Kolkata Police thanked the British Council and Premier League and reiterated Kolkata Police’s support and commitment for the project.

Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation, speaking on behalf of the football fraternity, wished the project all success and committed their support.

Sovan Chatterjee, Hon’ble Mayor of Kolkata representing the Kolkata Municipal Corporation lauded the Kolkata Goalz initiative and said he was happy to support the project by providing the infrastructure.

Madan Mitra, Hon’ble Sports Minister, Government of West Bengal commended all the partners and stated that the Government of West Bengal was delighted that the project was being piloted in Kolkata and that his department would extend all possible support to make it a big success.

Speeches over, dignitaries took turns to demonstrate their skills in football and kicked the ball to the coaches and young people in the ground. The coaches then gave a mini-demonstration of their coaching techniques with the young people.

The training will begin soon at the six venues. As the young people wait excitedly to join the programme, we at the British Council wish the project all success. Our endeavour will be to set up a sustainable model in Kolkata which could then be potentially replicated across India in collaboration with other police departments, municipal authorities and football clubs. We hope that in the future we will be able to encourage young people from across India to aim for a more positive future.

Partners celebrate the launch with football balloons

Partners celebrate the launch with football balloons

UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne kicks a football into the Shibtala community ground in Topsia at the launch of Kolkata Goalz

Rob Lynes, Director British Council India, kicks off the programme in the presence of West Bengal Sports minister Madan Mitra, Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and Commissioner of Kolkata Police RK Pachnanda

Premier League trainers Rubel Ahmed from the Active Communities Network and Michael Nyarko, the Social Inclusion Manager of Crystal Palace Football Club

Premier League trainers Rubel Ahmed from the Active Communities Network and Michael Nyarko, the Social Inclusion Manager of Crystal Palace Football Club

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

When Library became College April 21, 2011

Posted by British Council India in General.
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It was John Keats’s birthday when I became a member of British Council Library, Kolkata, in 1996. I had tried to become a member of the British Council Library earlier but the library officials stated that I had to be at least a graduate student to become a member. It was a haloed turf for me because the library had a great collection of English Literature books, which were of great interest to me. Located in Shakespeare Sarani (formerly Theatre Road), the library had an old world charm to it if a telescopic view into almost fifteen years past is taken from now. The wooden interiors, the manual catalogues, the lending of audio cassettes, the blue-covered notes on literature, all had become an integral part of my life.

As years passed by the interiors became plush, the audio cassettes gave way to CDs, computers took over cataloguing and issuing, the notes on literature got neglected, the cafe became in-house, a kids’ section was added, film DVDs were compiled, subscription of academic journals diminished, internet and photocopying facilities were introduced, and the library itself  shifted from its Shakespeare Sarani address to Larsen and Toubro Chambers in Camac Street. But my attachment remained undeterred.

It is so because when I didn’t have a college to go to, the British Council library became my college. When I didn’t have a university to go to, the British Council library became my university. When I didn’t have a professor to consult with, the British Council library became my professor. When I didn’t have a peer to lift my mood, the British Council library became my peer. I treasure the Pictorial Retrospective of V. S. Naipaul that I won at the V. S. Naipaul quiz organized by the British Council library. The six Best of Bookers shortlisted books, which I won in another British Council organized quiz, adorn my bookshelf. The library still provides me with books for sustenance and a space to cherish. It has been a constant in my life and will always remain so. I believe there are many people who have had intimate associations with this or other libraries in their lives.

Post by – © Amit Shankar Saha

Amit Shankar Saha

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