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English in Action project scoops top award for international impact

English in Action (EIA), an inspiring OU-led project to transform English language teaching in Bangladesh has won a prestigious Times Higher Education Award for International Impact. The Award recognises projects which have had a significant, demonstrable impact on the world at large.

“innovative and pragmatic “

The judges said that the programme was a “clear winner for its global impact on English communication abilities in difficult-to-access regions”. They commended staff at the OU for their “innovative and pragmatic solution as well as their collaborative approach, working with intergovernmental agencies and in-country partners”.

“The OU’s development of teaching materials specifically designed for use on low-cost mobile phones has had a transformative impact on the regions in which they have been deployed,” the panel said.

On receiving the award project manager, Claire Hedges, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to have won this award. A key part of the English in Action project is empowering both teachers and students in Bangladesh, enabling them to have a say in their education. In fact, in Bangladesh the project is known as the ‘silence-breaking programme’ as it has given both students and teachers a voice. A huge thank you to UKAid, the Government of Bangladesh, and our project managing partner Cambridge Education. We are incredibly proud to have won this award and to give English in Action a global voice.”

The OU’s Vice Chancellor, Peter Horrocks said:

English in Action is a wonderful project that has created impact for millions of teachers and students in Bangladesh. It has a real place in my heart too, having seen it first-hand five years ago, in my previous role as Director of the BBC World Service.

Using low-cost mobile phones  to transform English language teaching across the globe

EIA is a UK government-backed project that works closely with Bangladesh’s government, has achieved fantastic results. The OU developed teaching materials specifically for use on low-cost mobile phones to provide educators with techniques and activities to help millions more Bangladeshis benefit from the social and economic opportunities that require communication in English.

The materials have been adopted by more than 50,000 educators and are now available to 7 million teachers and children across Bangladesh. This means that there is now a pool of local teachers available for future English teacher-training programmes.

More than 95 per cent of teachers said that the project had improved their own English and in excess of 90 per cent reported incorporating the materials into their teaching. Children in primary schools increasingly speak in English, and within 12 months of EIA’s launch, 59 per cent had passed an international test.

Replica programmes have followed in India, Nigeria and South Sudan, and future development is planned in Myanmar, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Find out more about the project on the English in Action webpage

About Author

Rebecca works in the Media Relations team at The Open University. She has a wide range of experience including teaching English as a foreign language, working as a museum and gallery curator and doing media relations for food and drink producers. She has a degree in History of Art and Philosophy from the University of Birmingham and a Masters from City University London. Rebecca specialises in stories from the OU's Faculty of Business and Law, the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education, and Language Studies. She also works on publicity for the OU's activities on degree apprenticeships. One of the loves of her life is her little jack russell.

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