The British Council in the Philippines Advances Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity with Impactful Educational and Cultural Programs

The British Council in the Philippines is reinforcing its dedication to equality, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) with initiatives aimed at fostering meaningful relationships and supporting underrepresented communities within the educational sector.

Understanding EDI in British Council

Equality, diversity, and inclusivity are the core principles of British Council’s mission to cultivate enduring and respectful relationships across diverse cultures. By aligning with the UK equality legislation, British Council focuses on six key areas of diversity: age, disability, sex and gender, race/ethnicity and culture, religion and belief, and sexual orientation—while also considering one’s socio-economic status and geographical location. 

Ultimately, the goal of British Council is to bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds, enriching experiences, and promoting inclusivity within educational and governmental institution through various programmessuch as: the arts, education, English language teaching, learning and examinations.

Notable Initiatives Driving Change in the Philippines

In addressing gender disparities in STEM education across Southeast Asia, the British Council has an ongoing series of impactful initiatives. These include their global Women in STEM scholarship programme, the ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships, and the English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE) project focused on empowering girls through education and digital literacy.

In partnership with UK universities, the Women in STEM scholarship programme is now on its fourth year in supporting Filipina scholars who are pursuing studies in STEM fields. The programme is slated to address the underrepresentation of women in these areas, improve scientific and financial outcomes, and provide organizations with a competitive advantage.

Apart from the Women in STEM scholarship, the British Council launched the ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships tackling gender disparities. This scholarship program enhances the access to UK education for women and girls in ASEAN and Timor-Leste. Funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, this supports the advancement of girls’ education and breaks down gender barriers to digital skills and employment. “As a British Council Women in STEM scholar pursuing my LLM in Global Environmental Law and Governance at the University of Strathclyde,” shared by Alyza Noelle Tan, “I have been given an incredible opportunity to deepen my understanding of international policies and gain invaluable experience working with organizations dedicated to improving climate change policies worldwide. This scholarship has not only empowered me as a woman to be at the forefront of international policy negotiations but has also allowed me to research how international frameworks can simultaneously uplift marginalized communities and protect our environment. Through this transformative journey, I have discovered the immense potential we hold as women in STEM to shape a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”

Moreover, the British Council is also working on the EDGE project which initiated last 2016. This focuses on improving life prospects for adolescent girls in South Asia by enhancing their English proficiency, digital literacy, and social skills. Currently exploring this project’s potential in the Philippines, British Council is targeting out-of-school and socio-economically marginalized girls so that they can support their educational and personal development.

Moving Beyond Education

(In the photo: British Council Philippines and British Embassy staff at Pride March)

Outside of the educational space, the British Council actively supports EDI by engaging with LGBTQIA+ communities, among many others. Early this year, they screened Five Films for Freedom (an annual online celebration of queer stories) in Baguio, Cebu, and Manila, reaching over 23 million people globally to promote the message that love is a human right. And during Pride Month, the British Council partnered with Northern Luzon Pride to support Kinemalaya, a queer film screening. They also hosted a panel discussion on safe spaces for queer individuals.

Another notable initiative would be the Connections Through Culture (CTC) arts grants programme which nurtures fresh cultural partnerships between East Asia and the UK, focusing on diversity, inclusion, and climate change. CTC grantees Elephant (PH) and Inferno London (UK) collaborated on God Save the Queers Bless the Badings, a platform that explores queer perspectives on religious experiences. Meanwhile, Ram Botero (PH) and Giulia Casalini (UK) partnered on Performing Diwata: an R&D project that focuses on ecotransfeminism in precolonial Philippine mythology.

Overall, the British Council in the Philippines reaffirms its commitment to advancing equality, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) through significant initiatives such as the launch of the EDGE programme and the ongoing ASEAN-UK SAGE initiative. These endeavors showcase the dedication to fostering inclusive educational programs that enrich learning experiences and promote mutual understanding among diverse communities.