Partnerships strengthened as Edinburgh College welcomes visitors for international conference

Representatives from educational institutions across the world came together at Edinburgh College this week to share ideas and discuss a programme designed to improve opportunities for young people in Panama – through English language teaching.

The College’s Milton Road Campus played host to the annual Panamá Bilingüe conference, with College staff welcoming delegates to Scotland’s capital to develop the future of the Panama Bilingüe programme.

The programme, run by the Ministry of Education in Panama, aims to make Panama a bilingual country and to improve the opportunities and life chances for its young people, by improving the quality and efficacy of English teaching in Panamanian schools. As part of the programme, Panamanian teachers and trainee teachers travel to English-speaking countries (the USA, Canada and the UK) for English language and teaching methodology training.

Edinburgh College has been a part of the programme since 2015, and to date has hosted 15 groups of teachers and trainee teachers with more than 300 students having visited the College for periods of between eight and 16 weeks. As part of the experience, the Panamanian students study in College five days a week, live with a local homestay host and participate in a varied programme of social and cultural activities. Students also visit local schools and observe English language classes at the College.

Each year, the programme’s partner institutions gather together for an annual conference, to share best practice, review the progress of the programme and make plans for future developments. In previous years the conference has been hosted by Centennial College, Toronto, and Georgetown University, Washington DC.

During this year’s three-day conference, in addition to the presentations and workshops which took place at the College, delegates also had an opportunity to experience some traditional Scottish hospitality and culture, with an evening reception at Riddle’s Court, a walking tour around Edinburgh’s Old Town, and a visit to Tantallon Castle and Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery.

Edinburgh College International Business Manager Sarah Gore said: “Edinburgh College strongly values the relationship we have with Panamá Bilingüe and we were honoured to host the 2018 Panamá Bilingüe Conference. We hope delegates had a wonderful time in our beautiful city, and we look forward to continuing our involvement in this important and exciting project to transform the future of Panama.”

Edinburgh College Assistant Principal Mike Jeffrey said: “Since joining the programme in 2015, the College has hosted many Panamanian teachers and it has been a pleasure to see the progress they make during their time studying English with us.

“It was fantastic to welcome other partner institutions to Edinburgh for the conference and to share our experience of working with the Panamá Bilingüe programme. We are proud to be a part of such an ambitious initiative and we look forward to developing our partnerships further in the future.”