Skip to comments.British Council to send pupils on Afghanistan (and Iraq) exchange (Will PC insane parents do it?)
Posted on 04/08/2008 10:42:54 AM PDT by 2banana
British Council to send pupils on Afghanistan exchange By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
British children are to make exchange visits to war-ravaged Afghanistan and Iraq under a classroom twinning scheme.
The plan is the latest step in a dramatic change in outlook for the British Council as it prepares to mark its 75th anniversary next year.
Promoting ties with Muslim countries has emerged as a top priority and is closely linked to the Government's efforts to fight terrorism.
Swapping the Playstations and duvets of modern Britain for the dirt floors and brick beds of Afghanistan will depend on security assessments.
Only older children are likely to be involved in the exchanges. However, local authorities across Britain will be asked next year to volunteer their primary and secondary schools to "twin" with Afghan equivalents.
"We will apply a risk assessment to travel and be pragmatic," said James Rowe, a council spokesman. "We have recently had visits to Yemen go ahead and that country has a reputation for violence."
The threat to Westerners in Aghanistan has increased sharply in recent weeks following a suicide bombing at the Serena Hotel, a favourite of foreigners staying in Kabul.
But the prize of promoting ties in a country where, as recently as 2001, the Taliban banned all forms of modernity, including education for girls, is deemed too great to miss.
The Connecting Classrooms scheme is a global programme with long established links to Africa and China. Now expansion across Muslim countries has emerged as the most important development for the British Council since the end of the Cold War.
The extension of the programme to Afghanistan marks its boldest move since it was expanded to Iraq in 2004, where there are links to 24 schools. While exchange visits have so far been confined to meetings in Jordan, there are hopes that British children could soon visit northern Iraq.
The scheme's planned expansion in central Asia from April next year will be rapid. By 2012 it aims to cover 220 schools, involving 220,000 pupils in both primary and secondary grades, in Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
"The mission of the British Council is to improve the understanding of the UK in the rest of the world," said Lord Kinnock of Bedwellty, the council's chairman, last week.
Efforts to promote reform among Islamic societies range widely from sponsoring Electric Steps, Libya's only hip-hop band, to setting up an English school in al-Azhar University, in Cairo, the world's largest institution for the training of mullahs.
"The debate inside Islam would be helped by having proficient Islamic scholars able to communicate in English," said Dominic Asquith, the UK ambassador to Egypt.
Accusations from Russia that the British Council was a front for spying resulted in the closure of two of its offices in December.
Prior to that, its employees, including Lord Kinnock's son, Stephen, the director of the St Petersburg outpost, also suffered harassment.
However, the row came at a time when the organisation is winding down its presence in the country.
A pupil is examined for his knowledge of the Quran by his teacher in a madrassa in Kabul, Afghanistan
Just where I want my 16 year old blond non-muslim daughter to spend a summer...
How retarded are these stupid aholes....unbelievable! Yes, I’m sure many Brits will want their daughters going to Afghanistan...right...MORONS!!!
Can I send my neighbors’ kids?................
This is the point of the exercise, I guess. Our troops are there - our schools can help too.
I don't necessarily support this plan, but its not stark staring dementia.
Am I the only one who sees this as a hostage taking in the making?
A responsable parent would never agree to this. It is insanity and placing some retarded ideal above the welfare of your child, and totally selfish of the parent if you ask me.
4 years away, and who knows how successful the wars are going to be. What, are you doubting the success of our venture? These countries are going to be turned into shining beacons of light in the region. Helmand was known as ‘little America’ when the Yanks gave a spam about the place in the 70’s.