The Youth for a
Martin Davidson, the chief executive of the British Council arrived in Dhaka on a visit to Bangladesh on Tuesday October 26, 2010. During his three-day visit, Mr. Davidson met Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina and visited climate change projects run by the British Council in the 'Aila' affected areas of Southern Bangladesh. In an interview with the Star Campus (SC), Martin Davidson (MD) expresses his observation regarding British Council's commitment towards the development of Bangladesh in various sectors. He also speaks about the growing association between the young people living in the United Kingdom and Bangladesh.
SC: Tell us something about your experience at the British Council Bangladesh.
MD: It has been a very busy week for me. I have already visited several projects run by the British Council located in different parts of the country. I have also had a meeting with the honourable prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, where we spoke about the activities that the British Council is involved in. I also informed her about our plans to bring more young minds together. One of the elements that strike me, every time I visit Bangladesh, is the huge amount of energy that the people in this country showcase through their thoughts and actions!
SC: How is British Council concerned with the issue of climate change in our part of the world?
MD: The British Council is working actively with the young people in Bangladesh and also the rest of the country to make them more aware of the effects of climate change and how to cope with it. We have introduced initiatives like the 'International Climate Champion Competition' so that we can gather new ideas to make more people conscious about facing the odds of climate change. Young people inspired by these projects are working directly with the victims of climate change in costal areas of Bangladesh.
SC: Are the results that you are receiving from these projects, positive?
MD: Through these projects we are getting closer to the people who are the victims of climate change. We are working to enlighten them about the mitigation and adaptation techniques of climate change. We are trying to address their demands. In my recent visit to Mongla, I have noticed three important plights of the 'Aila' affected people lack of international links, more opportunities and more attention from the national government. British council is sincerely working to bring more international links and to create more opportunities for the victims of climate change.
SC: Right now the British Council has different education based projects on the go. How are these projects helping to develop the overall scenario of the education sector in Bangladesh?
MD: Through our education based projects, for instance, 'Connecting Classrooms' we are working to create more connections among the educational institutions of the UK and Bangladesh. Thus, the young people living in both the countries are coming closer, thereby learning about each other's culture and heritage. The projects are also focusing on new methods in teaching and also to introduce a modern and interactive curriculum.
SC: What does the British Council help people living in distant areas, in terms of education.
MD: Thanks to the many projects being run by the British Council, the attitude towards education is slowly changing amongst many. They are now updating themselves with modern-day technology and communication devices. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding access to information programme of the government of Bangladesh. Through this, we will work to introduce modern technology in schools located in rural and slightly remote areas in Bangladesh.
SC: Does the British Council have any plans to produce programmes in the electronic media to access over to a wider audience?
MD: We are already working jointly with the BBC to create programmes in the electronic media to reach the mass people. We are always trying to reach people living in distant parts of Bangladesh and believe in the same motto -- 'Digital Bangladesh'.
SC: We know that one of the main objectives of the British Council is to spread the knowledge of the English language across the world. What recent initiatives has the British Council taken, to do so, in Bangladesh?
MD: In the vision of spreading English in distant parts of the country, we are bringing English to mass people through mobile phones. The British Council has launched learning English through the internet. Through this people can develop their English skills by logging on our websites anytime and anywhere.
SC: Do you have any particular advice for students who want to study in the UK?
MD: Students should work more on their English. Many UK universities provide opportunities for Bangladeshi students, for instance, research opportunity, PhDs and scholarships. Students should look for these options on useful websites.
SC: Do you think the recently introduced point-based student visa scheme has made things difficult for Bangaldeshi students who want to study in the UK?
MD: The whole process is very transparent and fair. Anyone who has the required eligibility can get the visa easily.
SC: Do you think that the recent economic crisis has made the UK a less favoured destination for foreign students?
MD: There is no such indication. We continue to welcome foreign students in the diverse society of the UK. In cooperation with the British Council, students have the opportunity to study in the UK with scholarships.
SC: You spoke about the enthusiasm and the energy amongst the young students in Bangladesh, who are driven to make a difference for their country. How can the British Council make use of this energy to help create a better Bangladesh?
MD: Through projects like 'Active Citizens' we are providing training to the young people in Bangladesh, so that they can play active roles in their communities respectively. The commitments of these active citizens towards their communities are fascinating. In Mongla, the British council helped a group of young people who had taken the initiative to educate the illiterate adults in the locality. These small initiatives can bring about bigger changes, which will surely help to create a better Bangladesh.