Dr. Jayraj Awasthi
Vice Chancellor of Far Western University
Well, to begin I must go back to 1968, when I was an intermediate student and a British Council library member. Since then I have been in contact with the British Council on a regular basis.
During 1976-79 an English language advisor by the name of Susan Ferdisco from the British Council taught us at the Tribhuvan University (TU). She was Susan Ferdisco then and later became Dr. Susan Ferdisco. I still remember her fondly as she designed all our M.Ed. English courses and taught us at least three semesters each year. That was the beginning of the English department at TU. We got several scholarships from the British Council. I remember five students who returned with their postgraduate diplomas from the UK and went on to make huge contributions to the English department, especially in academia. When we started the department library in Education, the British Council was the first to donate ELT books. Now, this library has expanded and is considered the best ELT library in Nepal.
In 1983-84, the Government of Nepal requested the British Government to assist in the improvement of English language teaching in Nepal. The British Council was entrusted to carry out this task. I was one of the members of that English language survey team headed by Professor Alan Davis. I still recall the hard work involved and the submission of the report in four months; a very rigorous time it was.
Most importantly, the British Council played a very significant role in the initial inception of the Nepal English language Teacher Association (NELTA). I remember David Potinger, Assistant Director of the British Council, who initiated this wonderful academic exercise. From 1982 the British Council has been helping in one way or the other to enrich English teaching proficiency of the Nepali students, professors and faculty.
I worked with the British Council last year on a project to suggest improvements to the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination. It was hard work but we did produce and submit a comprehensive report to the Nepal Government.
May people who received British Council scholarships have reached the highest positions in academia, government bureaucracy and even in politics. This, in my opinion, is the biggest contribution British Council made to lift the academia in this country.