British Council strengthens commitment, identifies Philippines as ‘super-priority' for 2024

With the theme, 'Committed Connections,' the British Council brought together partners, grantees, scholars and stakeholders to commemorate the enduring partnerships and relationships it has cultivated over the decades.

MANILA, Philippines — The British Council in the Philippines proudly celebrated 45 years of unwavering commitment to fostering educational and cultural ties between the UK and the Philippines. A milestone event took place last February 16 at The Blue Leaf Events Pavilion in Taguig City. 

With the theme, "Committed Connections," the British Council brought together partners, grantees, scholars and stakeholders to commemorate the enduring partnerships and relationships it has cultivated over the decades.

Since its establishment in the Philippines in 1978, the British Council has been a driving force in facilitating countless opportunities for collaboration, exchange and growth in education, arts and culture through numerous initiatives and projects across the country. 

45 years of impact, collaboration

Leveraging the UK's expertise in arts, culture, education and the English language, along with its global network spanning over 100 countries, the British Council has developed a distinctive approach to drive positive change across various sectors in the Philippines. 

In an interview with Lotus Postrado, country director of the British Council in the Philippines, she emphasized the organization’s significant role over nearly five decades as a leader in cultural relations and international education within the Philippines.

“I have seen the immense value of working alongside partners who share the same vision and who are imbued with the same tenacity and commitment as we do here in the British Council,” Postrado told Philstar.com.

Lotus Postrado, country director of British Council in the Philippines

Through a wide range of programs and initiatives, the British Council directly engages with educators, policymakers, academics, researchers, creatives and entrepreneurs in the Philippines.

In the arts sector, the organization collaborates with different organizations on various innovative projects that advance creative enterprise, innovation and inclusive growth.

A notable example is the 2020 collaboration between the British Council and the Design Center of the Philippines on a pioneering design economy mapping initiative, which influenced the development of a National Design Policy with its recommendations. 

Keith Wakefield, owner of the English Language Academy, IELTS Official Test Centre Partner in Leyte
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In education, the organization actively collaborates with the Philippines to support internationalization through transnational education with initiatives such as the Access and Competitiveness through Internationalization of Higher Education program (ACT-IHE). 

The ACT-IHE has not only enabled many Filipino scholars to pursue studies abroad, but also connected UK and Philippine universities. It brought forth the continuing partnership of  University of Santo Tomas and University of Reading in the UK to offer PhD Built Environment/Architecture double-degree program, the first of its kind in the country. 

Moreover, another milestone for British Council’s work in education is its contribution to shaping the Transnational Higher Education (TNHE) Law, authored by Congressman Ron Salo, a Chevening alumnus, in 2019. 

The law opens more opportunities for higher education institutions to engage in TNE partnerships, providing Filipino students with wider access to international qualifications.

Committed Connections exhibit
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The British Council also offers the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), aiding Filipinos pursuing study, work or residency abroad. 

With over 30 test locations nationwide, the organization has supported over half a million Filipinos in pursuing their international aspirations.

Additionally, the organization has also been working with different Philippine offices, society organizations and law schools for its Justice Sector Reform Programme: Governance in Justice (GOJUST), which is funded by the European Union to improve access to justice for vulnerable groups in the Philippines. 

“On a macro level, such partnerships translated to national policies that have the power to effect change on a massive scale. On a micro level, we have changed the course of many lives for the better,” Postrado expressed.

Study UK Alumni Awards

As part of its celebration of its 45th year in the Philippines, the British Council hosted the inaugural Study UK Alumni Awards, recognizing the outstanding achievements of Filipino alumni who have pursued higher education in the UK.

Among a pool of exceptional nominees, four alumni stood out for their remarkable accomplishments in their respective fields. 

From left: British Council officials Summer Xia and Lotus Postrado with the winners and representatives, including Josephine Ambalada, represented by her son, for the Social Action category, along with Atty. Rowena Candice Ruiz (Business and Innovation), Catherine Rose Ballo (Culture and Creativity), and Atty. Bryan San Juan (Science and Sustainability), alongside British Deputy Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair White.
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In the Science and Sustainability category, Manila-based professor and lawyer Bryan San Juan, an alumnus of the University of Oxford, was honored for his expertise in environmental and climate change practice, as well as energy law. 

San Juan’s notable achievements include co-leading a project in 2022 that saved Coron, Palawan from environmental harm caused by an illegal reclamation project.

In the Business and Innovation category, lawyer and University of London alumna Rowena Candice Ruiz was recognized for her innovative solutions. 

Serving as an executive director at the Government Procurement Policy Board’s Technical Support Office, Ruiz played a key role in securing the country’s observer status in the World Trade Organization. Additionally, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she led digital transformation projects to ensure seamless business continuity.

Josephine Ambalada, a graduate of King’s College London, received the Social Action Award for leaving an impact on many through her contribution to the field of Special Education and mental health.  

Founder and managing director of the Winged Wonder Institute of Education, Ambalada has been catering to individuals with special needs including those with autism, ADHS, global delay and other related disorders. 

Finally, Catherine Rose Ballo, a graduate of University College London, was honored with the Culture and Creativity award.

Formerly the principal of SoFA Design Institute with over 20 years of experience as an educator, Ballo now serves as the founder of ARTguro Philippines. Through her work, she has been instrumental in uplifting and supporting fellow art educators across the country. 

A 2024 ‘super-priority’

Summer Xia, Southeast Asia lead of the British Council
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With its numerous feats and accomplishments, the British Council in the Philippines is committed to continue nurturing its relationship with Filipinos through the numerous opportunities it provides. 

According to Summer Xia, the Southeast Asia lead of the British Council, the Philippines has been identified as one of the British Council’s super-priority countries for the year 2024 for its promising growth and potential. 

“As an ASEAN Member State, the Philippines is crucial to the ASEAN strategy as it acts as the economic coordinator of the UK-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership, facilitating key commitments in the trade, investment and economic cooperation of the UK in the region,” he told Philstar.com.

“The fruition and success of these programs were and are only made possible through our collective action. In this regard, I would like to acknowledge and commend the incredible work done by the entire British Council in the Philippines team, both in the past and in the present. You are the powerful driving force behind our contribution to Philippine development, creating lasting impact in the Southeast Asia region as a whole,” he concluded. 

 


Editor’s Note: This story is created with British Council in the Philippines. It is produced by the Creative Content Team that is independent from our Editorial Newsroom.


 

 for British Council in the Philippines

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