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  • Writer's picturejoeseaton2

Forgotten teacher update 10/ 04/ 2023

Some Progress for the abandoned teachers - but more effort & intervention urgently required:


Last week was an important week for the former British Council teachers in hiding in Afghanistan, as a further 2 arrived in the UK. This puts the total number of BC teachers relocated to the UK under the UK Government’s ACRS scheme at 3. While it is good news that 3 have now reached safety, over 100 still remain, either in hiding in Afghanistan, or waiting in limbo in Pakistan.


Both of the new arrivals are Afghan women who had been employed on British Council programmes in the provinces. Their jobs meant they were highly visible within their communities, and their connection with the British Council and the British Embassy was well-known to all. They are both very relieved to have escaped the danger and uncertainty they had previously endured, and reached safety in the UK.


So, who are the 2 new arrivals?


Aadila


Aadila was employed by the British Council as a full-time teacher & ‘Master Trainer’ on the ‘English for Afghans’ programme (a UK Government programme funded by DfID). She signed a contract with the British Council when she was recruited in 2017, which lasted for two and a half years.

Her role required her to train local teachers in schools throughout her province, and engage with the local education directorate and local government authorities. She was also required to deliver training in 'UK Values', including ‘Equality Diversity & Inclusion’ (EDI) – subject matter which is highly controversial in Afghanistan.


As well as this, she frequently appeared in British Council digital content broadcast across our social media channels (Facebook & YouTube). With over 2 million followers on our Afghan Facebook page, and an audience of over 50,000 viewers for each episode of ‘English Doctor’, her face was well known. She was one of the stars of British Council media content in Afghanistan. Sadly, this exposure only put her at greater risk.


She qualified for the ARAP scheme from the start and should never have been left behind. It is great news that she has at last made it safely to the UK.


‘Homa’


Homa was an 'English Resource Centre Manager' for British Council Afghanistan, employed from 2014 – 2020. During over 5 years of service she was responsible for running the British Council 'English Resource Centre' in her province.

This public facing managerial role meant that she was well known and highly recognizable within her local community – a community suspicious of anyone with connections to Western organisations. She was rejected by the ARAP scheme in 2021, even though she qualified according to the UK Government criteria, and remained in great danger in Afghanistan prior to her relocation. At last she is now free from the fear of living under the merciless Taliban government, a regime which is cruel to all, but especially to those who have represented Western values


While it is a great relief that these 2 Afghan women have at last been safely relocated to the UK, all of their former colleagues remain in a precarious situation. Those left behind are in danger as a direct result of the work they did for the British Council.


For those in hiding in Afghanistan, some are still waiting for confirmation that they are eligible for the ACRS scheme. The Government urgently needs to speed up the way they process these applications.


For those in Afghanistan who have ACRS approval, they are desperately struggling to get passports and visas. The British Council should be supporting their efforts to get the necessary travel documentation, but sadly they are not doing so.


The British Council also needs to create an inventory of all their former Afghan employees, so that they know who is where, and what travel documents they have. This is very important for the majority of teachers, all of whom are still in Afghanistan, desperate to get out.


I do not know if the British Council is even aware of last week's arrival of the two female teachers, but neither teacher has been contacted by the British Council to welcome them.


The British Council’s continued reluctance to communicate directly with their teachers, or make a detailed list to work with is a serious issue. They urgently need to take an active role in the relocation of their former employees. Like all the abandoned teachers, I very much hope the British Council realises the need to step up and take responsibility as soon as possible.


(* Teachers names have been changed for security reasons).

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