The Council for Business with Britain (CBB) held its annual English Teacher Training Project awards ceremony on Wednesday 4 May 2011 at the British Council, Colombo, to present the University of Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) certificates to 153 English Language teachers from across the country. The ceremony is the yearly culmination of the CBB's corporate social responsibility initiative, an in-service teacher training programme for English Language Teachers carried out in association with the Ministry of Education.

A non-profit, non-political organisation focused on expanding bilateral trade links between Sri Lanka and the UK, the CBB pursues mutually beneficial business relationships for Sri Lanka and the UK. It organises regular events to help the business communities from these two countries come together. The project was designed and is being managed by the British Council with HSBC as the Principal Sponsor and MAS Holdings as the Co Sponsor.

Certificates were handed over by the Guest of Honour, Minister of Education, Hon. Min. Bandula Gunawardena, and other dignitaries including, H.E. John Rankin, High Commissioner, British High Commission, Tony Reilly OBE, Country Director of the British Council Sri Lanka, Mohammed Ziauddin, Chairman, ELT sub-committee of CBB and Shirendra Lawrence, Vice Chairman of the CBB and Managing Director of MAS Active (Private) Limited.

Nick Nicolaou, Chairman of the CBB and CEO of HSBC Sri Lanka and the Maldives said "HSBC is privileged to have sponsored the CBB English Teacher Training project since 2006, which has benefited many teachers and students across the country. We envisage the programme at the end of 2012 will help 1,900,000 students and 800 teachers acquire skills and capabilities that are useful in accessing a myriad of opportunities available in today's society. This is by far the largest educational programme that the Bank has ventured into and we hope the training will pave the way for a knowledge driven society in contributing towards accelerated economic progress".

The overall goal of the programme is to upgrade the English skills of pupils and this is achieved through improving the quality of the teaching practice in their schools. The project has trained a total of 57 mentors from the Ministry of Education's Regional English Support Centres (RESCs), ensuring a wide geographical coverage across Sri Lanka. The mentors deliver in-service teacher training to teachers in their areas using a distance learning course (branded as 'the CBB English Teacher Training Project') which leads to the internationally recognised University of Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT).

The TKT examination is comprised of three modules which focus on the core knowledge and skills needed by English teachers.

The 27 Regional English Support Centres involved in this project are in Chilaw, Bolawalana, Kegalle, Nuwara Eliya, Kahawatta, Baddegama (Galle), Ampara, Badulla, Mahiyangana, Matara, Kandy, Batticaloa, Monaragala, Polonnaruwa, Gampaha, Trincomalee, Matale, Kurunegala, Jaffna, Hatton, Hanguranketha, Ehaliyagoda, Balapitiya, Bandarawela, Anuradhapura, Hanwella and Kalutara. To date more than 400 teachers have been awarded the TKT qualification under this project.

Tony Reilly OBE, Country Director for the British Council said "The British Council is delighted to be involved in such a fine example of a private and public partnership achieving national impact. The fusion of the corporate sponsorship of the Council for Business with Britain and the state support and infrastructure of the Ministry of Education creates a synergy in the development of vital English anguage skills nationally. The British Council's vision globally is to reach millions of teachers and learners of English and provide them with access to the best resources and latest approaches to English language teaching and learning from the UK. Quality English language teaching and training is at the heart of the British Council's work around the world. It is also central to Sri Lanka's bold vision to establish itself as a regional and global knowledge hub. The CBB Project contributes greatly to the achievement of our own vision and that of the Government of Sri Lanka."

The "Sponsor a Teacher" campaign was launched by CBB over a year ago to sustain and encourage contributions towards the CBB English Teacher Training Project from more companies within and outside the CBB membership. Interested companies or individuals can sponsor an individual teacher who is participating in the project or as many teachers as they wish and may decide to select teachers who work in parts of the country with which their company has a particular link.

Shirendra Lawrence, Managing Director, MAS Active Trading (Pvt) Ltd noted that "for many years, MAS Holdings has focused its Corporate Social Responsibility activities on the areas of Education and Health. We believe that improvements in these will make a sustainable difference to both our employees as well as the communities in which we operate. The CBB's English Teacher Training Project provides us with a tailor-made opportunity to reach deep into our rural communities and make a real difference, by developing the teaching competency of those who are in direct contact with the Youth who need the most assistance. We have seen the tangible results that the ELT program has made over the years, and will continue to partner and look forward to supporting the same in the future as well."