Wednesday 27 February 2019


St Mary’s Primary School in Mullaghbawn, Co Armagh is linking up with a school in Nepal, in the hope of encouraging more girls into coding. 

The school is taking part in the new Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning (CCGL) initiative, a DFID (Department for International Development) and British Council programme, which aims to equip pupils with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to live and work in a global economy.

The programme, delivered in Northern Ireland in conjunction with the Centre for Global Education (CGE) builds on the British Council’s previous Connecting Classrooms programme, which ran from 2015 to 2018, and involved more than 5,000 schools working in partnership and reached more than one million children.

St Mary’s, which was part of the previous Connecting Classrooms programme, now leads a cluster of nine schools across Northern Ireland who partner with schools in Nepal. The school is currently partnered with Jhapa Model English School and hopes to promote Gender Equality through Coding.

Speaking about the project was Ciara Crawley, St Mary’s International Co-ordinator. She said: “Our initial project together was around eco-schools and the environment and we were able through training in digital literacy, to create a virtual classroom for pupils in both countries, helping us to communicate with each other and share work related to the projects. 

“This year we want to build on this, and the main aim of the project is  to raise awareness of Gender Equality through IT by encouraging girls into coding and ensuring all pupils receive a quality education and are prepared for the next stage in their education and ultimately for employment.  The pupils will work together on a problem-solving project and will use coding to create a simple computer game based around an environmental issue in each country.”

Last year, Ciara and 17 other teachers from Northern Ireland were able to visit their partner school, and this time, they are hoping for a reciprocal visit.

She said: “As part of the new programme, schools are offered grants to visit their partner school and we are hoping to welcome the Nepalese teachers to Northern Ireland this April and show them a warm welcome. The pupils love to see visitors coming to the school and we hope to get both the community and parents involved.  

“The visits make us really appreciate what we have here in Northern Ireland and show us that we really are doing a great job. We have wonderful children and through international projects they not only learn about their own country, but also about others and it’s so important - especially now - to give them that international outlook.”

The Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme aims to connect Northern Ireland schools with African, Asian and Middle Eastern classrooms and will benefit over three million pupils worldwide, with school partnerships available with over 30 countries across the world.

It will also train 60,000 teachers and school leaders in the UK and developing countries to equip pupils with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make a positive contribution toward a more fair and equal world.

Speaking about the programme Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland said:

“Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning provides our young people with an opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to thrive in an increasingly global society.

 “The partnership between Northern Ireland schools and those in Nepal show the huge impact these connections can have on pupils, teachers and the local community. We hope schools across Northern Ireland sign up to take part.”

Also speaking about the new programme was Orla Devine, Programme Manager at the Centre for Global Education. She said: “The Centre for Global Education is delighted to be the delivery partner for Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning in Northern Ireland. 

Through our programme of training and support on global learning and international school partnerships, teachers will be equipped to prepare learners for an increasingly interdependent world and to support them to learn, collaborate and take action on local and global issues alongside their peers from the global south.”

Schools interested in being part of the new Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning (CCGL) programme can sign up and find a partner school by going to: and selecting the part of the programme they are interested in, or by emailing

The next deadlines for applications are March 25 and June 17 2019.

The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. For more information on current opportunities in Northern Ireland, visit, or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager: T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook – 

Schools involved in the St Mary’s Cluster:

  • St Mary’s Primary School, Mullaghbawn
  • Holy Rosary Primary School, Belfast
  • Asssumption Grammar, Ballynahinch
  • St Patrick’s Primary School, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh
  • St Patrick’s Primary School, Enniskillen
  • Loowood Primary School, Belfast
  • St Mary’s High School, Newry
  • Saint Teresa’s Primary School Belfast
  • St Oliver Plunkett Nursery and Primary School

About Connecting Classrooms

  • The Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme will offer grants to fund visits by UK and developing country teachers to the partner school. Mobile digital platforms (such as WhatsApp and Zoom) will also be used to enable classroom-to-classroom activities between teachers and pupils.
  • The scheme is jointly funded and delivered by the British Council who will contribute £17m. DFID will contribute £21m.
  • The programme is for children aged between 7-14 yrs and it will operate in the following countries:


Sub Saharan Africa
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

South Asia
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, India

Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco

East Asia

What’s the difference between Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning and Connecting Classrooms?

 Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning builds on key elements of DFID’s most recent development education programmes: the Global Learning Programme (2013-18) and Connecting Classrooms (2015-18).

 From the Global Learning Programme it adopts a focus on global learning and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a wide range of UK schools; a tailored approach to each of the four nations of the UK in order to align with their curricula; encouraging the formation of school clusters in order to achieve economies of scale and improve standards through peer learning; providing funding for supply cover so that teachers can access training; and encouraging local community action in line with the SDGs.

From Connecting Classrooms, it retains a focus on partnerships between schools in the UK and overseas, the provision of high-quality materials through the Schools Online website, advocacy and awareness raising of key educational issues overseas, and accreditation for schools through the International Schools Award (ISA). The programme will also continue to place emphasis on strong monitoring and evaluation.

In addition, Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning contains a number of new elements:

  • funding for reciprocal visits, so that overseas teachers can now visit partner schools in the UK, and help bring their country to life for UK pupils providing training to teachers on running equitable and sustainable partnerships;
  • the creation of a virtual partnerships platform for schools that are unable to take part in face-to-face partnerships;
  • a focus on training overseas teachers to develop their pupils’ skillset for the global economy e.g. entrepreneurial skills;
  • encouraging partnered schools to make local progress on an SDG as a shared project;
  • teacher training overseas to be aligned with DFID’s 2018 education policy, with a focus on education quality and inclusion;
  • accreditation for teachers and mapping other relevant awards for schools (such as UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School Award) to the ISA framework so that schools are duly recognised for their work on development education issues; in the UK, building on local community links and utilising local resources such as local NGOs, Development Education Centres, civil society organisations, higher education institutions, businesses, Regional Centres for Expertise, and encouraging Commonwealth Scholars, DFID staff, and returnees from the International Citizen Service and Voluntary Service Overseas programmes to visit local schools and discuss their experiences with pupils; and
  • a focus on a smaller number of priority countries, whilst adding Lesotho, given its strong links with Wales.

About the Centre for Global Education

The Centre for Global Education is a development non-governmental organisation (NGO) which provides education services that promote a participative and experiential form of learning designed to engender new skills, values, attitudes and knowledge that enable us to understand the factors that underpin poverty and injustice around the world.  The Centre regards action as a central outcome of the learning process and encourages learners to actively engage with development issues to bring about positive social change both locally and internationally. We deliver activities in the formal and informal education sectors, produce publications and carry out research on global issues and education practice. The Centre managed the Global Learning Programme in Northern Ireland from 2014 to 2018. For more information on the work of the Centre for Global Education visit

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.