Supplementary memorandum from the British
Please find enclosed an explanatory note, as
requested by the Committee, on how we have managed to continue
our operations during the recent difficulties in the Palestinian
May I once again thank you for the opportunity
of presenting our spending review proposals to the Committee,
and for the chance to exchange views with you and your colleagues
on current work and future strategy.
On the question of whether or not we are losing
ground to the Americans in English language teaching in the Far
East, I am pleased to be able to say that our statistics show
an overall increase of 9 per cent in our top five teaching centres
in the region. We do not believe that there is any threat to our
share of the market from American penetration.
You may also be interested to know that the
mainly British test of IELTS will, on our projections, shortly
displace the US TOEFL test as the leading international test of
English in China. I have passed this information on to Sir John
Stanley who raised the question.
On the issue of the numbers attending the recent
Connecting Futures Youth Forum, we appreciate that these were,
as you pointed out, small. The purpose of the event was to test
a model of how to bring young people from differing backgrounds
together and involve them in the design of larger-scale activity
for the future. In order to encourage a cascade of ideas and experience
we included in the event young journalists from each country group
taking part. On a visit to Turkey last week a colleague met Hilal
Koylu, a young female journalist on the Daily Radikal in Ankara.
Hilal had written an in-depth article for her paper which had
sparked a lot of email and telephone feedback from young people
wanting to know more.
We are confident that the scale we are proposing
would have a significant impact on encouraging mutual understanding
between young people in the UK and those in the Arab and Muslim
The design of future activities will also be
informed by research to be published in early June and I will
arrange for the findings to be sent to you as soon as they are
I enclose a booklet
showing how Bangladesh is taking forward the initiative which
is real evidence of scaling up.
1. The British Council has sought to maintain
a strong and visible presence in the Palestinian territories and
to undertake as many of its activities as possible during the
2. We continue to fulfil as far as we can
our obligations to our main sponsors, such as the FCO (including
implementation of the Palestinian rights programme under the Human
Rights Project Fund), DfID and the World Bank, and remain committed
to our objective of winning recognition in the territories for
the UK's values, ideas and achievements.
3. While our office in East Jerusalem and
branches in Gaza, Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus have had to close
intermittently over the past eighteen months (and particularly
since March this year), we have tried to surmount operational
problems by continuing activity from other centres as far as possible.
4. An explosion at our premises in Gaza
on 8 May demonstrated the kind of difficulties the Council has
been operating under. As a consequence, we closed all our offices
in the Palestinian territories while we undertook a security review.
They were all re-opened in the following week, with the exception
of Hebron, which was due to close permanently next month.
5. We believe it is of critical importance
that we maintain as high a profile as possible to demonstrate
our commitment to the building of lasting, mutual beneficial relations
between Palestinians and the United Kingdom.
6. But we also maintain an obligation to
our staff to protect their safety. Restrictions on the movement
of Palestinians within the territories has meant that many members
of staff have had to work out of different offices, while retaining
their original functions.
7. It has been impossible for us to base
UK-appointed staff outside east Jerusalem, while their movements
in the West Bank and Gaza have been highly restrictive. On FCO
advice, we have had to suspend our teaching operations in Ramallah
8. It has also proved impossible to bring
UK contacts to the West Bank or Gaza, and the restrictions on
movements are making the possibilities for Palestinians themselves
to visit the UK difficult.
9. As a consequence, we are developing imaginative
ideas for continued engagement with the UK through the use of
technologies to support distance education, school and university
links and support for the marketing UK qualifications.
10. We remain committed to fulfilling our
objectives of influencing ministers and senior officials inside
the Palestinian Authority, primarily through work in institutional
capacity building, and through pro-active information services.
We are also building up engagement with up to 600 young opinion-formers,
such as returned Chevening scholars and other alumni; while also
reaching wider audiences of young adults through the learning
of English and distance education.
11. Our commitment has also been demonstrated
by including the territories in the Connecting Futures initiative
which aims to build long-term relationships based on mutual understanding
between young people in the UK and a range of different cultures
and societies in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
12. As part of our strategy for maximising
funding for programme activities, we have closed our Hebron branch
and will close in Nablus next year. This will release funding
from infrastructure and make more available for programme activity.
Our presence in these towns will be maintained by providing information
centres inside partner organisations.
13. Our key activities in the Palestinian
Supporting institutional and community development
14. We demonstrate the value of UK experience
in assisting Palestinians in the development of their institutions
and improving access to public services. We positively influence
leading members of key Palestinian institutions, with whom we
have built an enduring relationship, and act as multipliers for
UK reputation. We engage with civil society, aiming to strengthen
the professional (and often informal) associations that are agents
for progress, creativity and prosperity.
Our portfolio of donor assistance
contracts include DfID's Health Management Strengthening Project,
support to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and Gender and
Law. We have procured books and journals for four Palestinian
university libraries under EU funding. We are partners (along
with the Welfare Association and Charities Aid Foundation) in
the World Bank NGO Project. We have been contacted by the Qattan
Foundation to assist in the establishment of a children's library
in Gaza. We were contracted by the World Bank (using funds provided
by the Danish government) to establish a Public Administration
Network of Knowledge on the Internet.
The Palestinian Rights Programme
is in its fourth year of operation, supported by the FCO Human
Rights Project Fund. The budget in 2001/02 was £200,000.
Through it we work in partnership with local institutions. We
are working with the National Plan of Action for the Palestinian
Child in developing policies in Palestinian ministries that support
children's rights. These policies were developed through a national
campaign that involved consulting children about what is most
important to them. Alongside this the ministries have been drafting
the Palestinian Child Law, for approval by the PLC.
Promoting images of diversity through
children's literature. This started with an exhibition of children's
literature and has led on to the translation of books into Arabic
and the training of local authors to write new materials. This
has taken place with the active involvement of local NGO's, the
Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture. DfID has supported
the initiative through a grant to a local NGO to produce reading
Cultural and educational projects
such as the partnership between the Royal Court Theatre in London
and young theatre professionals in Bethlehem and Ramallah, leading
to plays by Palestinian playwrights being performed at the London
International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).
15. The Connecting Futures initiative is
designed to increase mutual understanding between young people
of the UK and the Arab and Muslim worlds. The initiative will
be rolled out over the next four years. The Palestinian Territories
are among the ten priority countries or territories involved in
We are undertaking opinion research
among young Palestinians which will guide our future activity
in the areas of human rights and conflict resolution, and in support
of school links, youth group exchanges, youth leadership capacity
training, and in improving understanding between young people
of different societies and cultures.
The British Council
7 Not printed. Back