Attending the graduation ceremony were Deputy to the Grand Imam Mohamed El-Dweiny, Deputy Director of the British Council in Egypt Ruth Cocks, and Head of Al-Azhar Institutes Salama Dawood.
The AATAGs — one of the programmes offered under the Al-Azhar-British Council partnership — is a capacity building programme that is provided across the country. The programme aims to develop the English language skills and pedagogical knowledge of participants in addition to improving the digital literacy of teachers working at the primary, preparatory, and secondary levels of Al-Azhar institutes.
During the graduation ceremony, the British Council and Al-Azhar announced their plan to inaugurate the Al-Azhar English Training Centre in Luxor this academic year to build on the success of the English Training Centre in Cairo.
The Luxor centre is going to be dedicated to students of Al-Azhar Girls College in the new city of Taiba, allowing them to develop their communicative English language skills and empowering them to confidently engage in interfaith and intercultural dialogue with people from other backgrounds nationally and overseas. This prospective English Teaching Centre in Luxor will be run by 18 teachers that were trained intensively and earned the proper accreditation to teach 6,000 female students that the centre will welcome.
During the event, Cocks said: “Today, Al-Azhar and the British Council witnessed the graduation of 182 teacher educators and 4,605 teachers. Our Al-Azhar teacher training programme has offered nearly 5,000 life-changing opportunities for teachers of English and the students they teach. The British Council prides itself on its English language teaching and training capabilities and it gives us enormous pleasure to work with Al-Azhar in this field. It’s one of the programmes in our wider partnership with Al-Azhar — a partnership we are extremely proud of and will continue to commit to in order to build connections, trust, and understanding between the UK and Egypt.”
For his part, El-Dweiny said: “Today, we gather in the honourable Al-Azhar to celebrate and honour our sons — teachers of the English language — as part of Al-Azhar’s belief in the importance of foreign languages and their eagerness to learn them. It gives me great pleasure to see today the result of this fruitful partnership between the British Council, and to reap the fruits of this joint effort, which reflects the perseverance of everyone involved who devoted their time and effort to learning, teaching, training, and learning.”
The partnership between Al-Azhar and the British Council partnership started in 2007 at the request of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar — who was the president of the university at the time — to support Al-Azhar University in setting up an English language training centre for students of the Faculty of Islamic studies.
Since it started, the partnership has evolved to involve three tracks — supporting the Al-Azhar English Training Centre to provide quality English language lessons, building the capacity of Al-Azhar to support the professional development of their primary and secondary school teachers, and managing a Masters and PhD UK-scholarship programme for Al-Azhar teachers and students in partnership with the British Embassy in Cairo.