The British Council Award for the Effective Transfer of English Language Skills
This award is given to a not-for-profit organisation for its contribution to sustainable development through the effective transfer of English language skills and knowledge.
Specially commended: The Aga Khan University, Centre for English Language
To be a Pakistani is to be a linguist. Many Pakistanis learn a local, mother tongue, then the language of the region, then the national language, Urdu. If they want to make their way in higher education and the professions, they need English, the language of professional books, as well. But Pakistani schools are short of trained teachers.
The Aga Khan University, established in Karachi in 1980, found it necessary to offer teaching in English to its student nurses and employees. For this purpose, it set up the Centre for English Language. For many girls from remote villages, the School of Nursing at the AKU offers a first step to a better future; but they arrive with little English. The Centre for English Language gives them a 17-week intensive course and introduces them to its innovative Self-Access Centre where they can work at their own pace. Perviz Husain, an assistant professor, writes: "We teach English to improve the communicative skills of the learners, to enable them to cope with their studies. We use co-operative learning, which encourages them to study in pairs and groups."
Applicants for medical training who come from poor areas also get a one-year English programme at the Centre for English Language, if they fall just short of the admission score. There is an intensive English language course specifically designed for teachers from Pakistan, Central Asia and Africa who, after obtaining their Masters in Education, train colleagues back in their schools. And there are courses for university employees who need English related to their jobs.
The Centre has provided instruction in English to over 300 people from outside the AKU. Teachers from the Centre have visited Khorog University in Tajikistan and several schools in Northern Pakistan to help teachers and students improve their work in English.
The judges say
The Centre for English Language provides a first-class example of the means and benefits of transferring English language skills, and deserves our special commendation for its all-round good work. Its contributions to the empowerment of women are particularly noteworthy in the region in which it operates. We have been especially struck by the extension of its programmes in the rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Great benefits will be derived if this important work can be developed further. Effectively resourced and supported, the Centre has maintained high standards.
The Aga Khan University Centre for English Language, P.O.Box 3500, Stadium Road, Karachi 74800, Pakistan;
Tel: +92 21 4859 5434; Fax 21 493 4294, 493 2095