Celebrating 75 Years of Transforming Lives in Nigeria

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Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the British Council Nigeria recently wrapped up 12 months of celebrating its 75th year presence in the nation and the millions of lives they have transformed, especially local communities

Over the cause of a year, gala events, community gatherings, TEDx-style talks and social media activities, both across Nigeria and in the UK, were held by the British Council in Nigeria to showcase 75 amazing stories of how the British Council has been a part of Nigeria in the last 75 years and how these in turn, have positively impacted lives in each community.

British Council Nigeria have been in Nigeria since 1944 and every year, they reach out to students, educators, policymakers, academics, researchers, creatives and entrepreneurs in Nigeria to change lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

To mark the celebration of its 75th anniversary in Nigeria, they kicked off the “Thanks to You” 75th anniversary celebration on June 8, 2019. The campaign was aimed at recognising, as well as celebrating the thousands of participants, who have taken advantage of the various programmes on offer at the British Council to transform their lives and those of their local communities in Nigeria.

At the launch, Nigeria Country Director for the British Council, Lucy Pearson said, “at the British Council, we have realised that people deserve opportunities that can provide better livelihoods, and that valuable connections can facilitate these opportunities.

“In Nigeria, we do this through our work in education, providing training and capacity building initiatives to people in the Arts, enterprise, society and education sectors. We also provide access to global opportunities through our exams, where we provide Nigerians with globally recognised professional and university qualifications right here in Nigeria.

“Every year, we reach out to thousands of students, educators, policymakers, academics, researchers, creative and entrepreneurs in Nigeria with our work across these sectors.“

Going down memory of some of the great achievements they have recorded over the years, the council said one project they are proud of is the Mirabel Centre, Nigeria’s first Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).

According to the council, Mirabel Centre was championed by Itoro Eze-Anaba, a participant of one of their numerous programmes. In a statement made available to THISDAY, the council said: “The centre was established with our support in 2013 and managed by Partnership for Justice (PJ). It provides holistic and high quality medical and psychosocial services to survivors of sexual assault and rape. We have since setup 11 more assault centres across Nigeria.

“We also work with a number of international partners to fund key programmes in Nigeria such as the EU Funded Managing Conflict in Nigeria; Justice for All; Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP); The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) and more recently the Kano Literacy and Maths Accelerator project (KaLMA).

“As part of our anniversary celebration we invited past participants of our programmes to submit stories of their experiences as part of our 75 Stories initiative to recognise and thank them for making a difference to society. We also had several events in Lagos, Kano and Abuja where our new state-of-the art building was commissioned by His Excellency the Vice-President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. He described the British Council as “a success story in all ramifications”. The Vice President was ably represented by the Honourable Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada.

“In conclusion to the year long celebration, we have launched a week long ‘finale-quiz’ competition to invite all Nigerians to participate in our anniversary event before it ends on the 14 June 2020 and also win prizes for engaging with the 75 Stories published on our website.

“To put the scale of the British Council’s activities in Nigeria into perspective, in 2018/2019 alone, 2,935 teachers have been trained through schools and English language programmes since 2018. More than 3,900 students across 26 schools have gained access to an international dimension in their education through the International School’s Award to help them prepare for successful future careers in an increasingly global economy.

“Also, over 117,352 internationally recognised exams were taken by Nigerians connecting them to worldwide learning opportunities, helping to improve their life chances. In addition, 4,832 artists were provided with empowerment opportunities through training and networking platforms in 2018.

“The British Council works with more than 10 million people every year out of offices in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt reaching audiences of more than 52 million. The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with.

“We invite all Nigerians to explore our website to see a compilation of all anniversary events and initiatives as well as learn more about how we are fostering enterprise growth across the length and breadth of the country. Find out more about us and the Finale Quiz at https://www.britishcouncil.org.ng/or on social media: Instagram & Twitter: @ngBritish // Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BritishCouncilNigeria/.”