I was invited to speak at the Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting
(CHOGM) in Malta recently. The 'Business Forum' which I was speaking at kicked off with a wonderful classical guitar maestro Simon Schembri. He did variation of the Maltese national anthem and then Astorias by Isaac Alberits. The music was followed by Lord Marland of Odstock, who opened proceedings; and then handed over to the honourable Dr Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta.
It was the Prime Minister who requested that Cambridge English speak at the event following our work with the Maltese Ministry of Education to strengthen the standards of English language and to build capacity for teachers - this is an ongoing project from 2015-2017. I was there to speak on Skilling the Commonwealth, and talked about the importance of multilingualism and not letting standards of English language slip. In practical terms - knowing the language of your main trading partner, and your neighbouring countries, as well as the language of migrant populations, if you have them. I also spoke about who's responsibility it is to skill the commonwealth and I advocated it is the joint responsibility of businesses, industry, government and education ministers, as well as individuals. (Pictured right is HRH Prince Charles giving the closing address - more on which later in the blog...)
I also spoke about the work Cambridge Assessment is doing in Mauritius, which attracted the attention of Dr Linda Sissons, chair of the board of governors at the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, British Columbia. She was interested in the importance of vocational education and how you may be able to remove the stigma around it by adding a brand name. I also met the Secretary General for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in Malaysia, Tan Sri Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria (pictured left with me) I also made contact with the chief of staff to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sagala Ratnayaka and arranged to meet in February about potential collaboration on education reform.
At end of the conference, a group of us who had been together for the past few days had our photo taken by the Honourable Minister Khaalis E. Rolle from the Bahamas - I didn't know who he was until after I stopped him to take a photo of my group, at which point he introduced himself before kindly proceeding to take the photo! We later, of course, had a photo taken with the Honourable Minister himself (pictured right)
The closing ceremony concluded with HRH Prince Charles who spoke about how the Commonwealth can work together. But not before the stage was completely cleared after the previous speaker (and even hoovered! - pictured left) ready for his arrival.
Head of International Education, Cambridge English Language Assessment
The header photo for this blog on the homepage of our website is attributed to Thomas Hawk.