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20.03.2008 Europe

UK’s £50m support for English language skills development in Bangladesh

By Sarah Thoms
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The UK has approved £50 million over nine years for an ambitious project which will significantly increase English language skills for 27 million people in Bangladesh. This will make a valuable and lasting contribution to economic and social development in that country.

Shahid Malik, the UK Minister for International Development, said:
"In an increasing globalised world having a workforce with good English language skills is a definite advantage. It can help people get better paid jobs and improve the chances of poorer people lifting themselves out of poverty.

"Ordinary Bangladeshis have the desire and ability to change their lives for the better and the UK is proud to work with the Government to give them the chance to do that. Our two countries enjoy a good relationship based on a shared history and a vibrant Bangladeshi community in the UK. I am glad that we are able to support economic and social progress for the poorest people in Bangladesh and ensure they have a brighter future."

"English in Action" is an innovative and comprehensive programme that will target a number of different ages and groups. In particular, it will make more young Bangladeshis ready for employment. It will provide teachers at primary and secondary level with a firm foundation for teaching English; and it will offer opportunities for using and practising English in a variety of economic and social contexts. The programme will also address a major skills gap in the Bangladesh workforce and will help the country become more competitive in both internal and international labour markets.

Designed to reach approximately 27 million people, English in Action will make use of rapidly expanding mobile phone technology in Bangladesh. It will use television and radio to stimulate interest and debate, and to reach the maximum number of people with appropriate learning programmes. The English in Action programme will also provide a wide range of supportive printed and audio learning materials which will be available to a wide range of learners.

UK development assistance in Bangladesh promotes good governance, economic growth, trade and access to basic services. The English in Action programme will contribute to improving economic growth and to increasing the quality of education provision in Bangladesh.

A recent Bangladesh Government report identified unemployment and growing income inequality as two major constraints which may prevent the country from achieving the Millennium Development Goals. English in Action will be an important contribution in assisting Bangladesh to overcome such constraints and to improve the livelihoods of its people.

We will continue to provide significant support for Bangladesh as an emerging economy and confident, stable state into the 21st century.

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