English Connects

English Connects is a programme that connects African youth and the future generation of leaders with the UK through English. It aims to improve the quality of English language teaching and learning, particularly in French and Portuguese speaking countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), thus creating opportunities to enable young people to increase their potential to study and improve their employability and networks.

Working with governments, the private sector, young entrepreneurs, future leaders, educators and learners in formal and non-formal education, the programme aims to reach and impact a wide audience through face to face interaction, media and digital channels.

The programme will continue to connect UK ELT providers, institutions, media and educational technology agencies with targeted countries, showcasing UK expertise, creativity and innovation in education, aiming to build trust and new partnerships.


  • High rates of economic development and the increased presence of multinational companies in non-English speaking countries in Africa that operate mainly in English has spurred high demand for English language skills.
  • Governments in French and Portuguese speaking Africa are increasingly aware that English is the international language of communication, culture, diplomacy, commerce, media, academia and IT, and that developing the English language skills of current and future workforces supports their development objectives. They are keen to work with the UK on improving English language teaching and learning within their education systems. The English Connects projects are separate from, but mutually supportive of FCDO education funding in the region targeted at providing a foundation level quality education and delivered through multilateral partners.
  • Extending opportunities for professional and personal development available to young Africans will strengthen social and economic capital across targeted countries and build trust and long term connections with the UK.
  • The English language provides a strong competitive advantage in culture, diplomacy, commerce, media, academia and IT. With countries such as France, China, Russia and Turkey increasingly deploying their soft power across the region, the UK needs to attract young aspirational Africans to one of its greatest international soft power assets – the English language.
  • The UK government is committed to working with priority countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to boost security, secure economic ties and build relationships.
  • Forging new connections with future African leaders will support the UK in international fora in decades to come. We will help to grow UK education exports through new business opportunities and market intelligence we share with UK partners e.g. opportunities for UK ELT providers to enter the Francophone and Lusophone Africa markets.
  • Improved English skills of young people in targeted countries will provide increased access to scholarships (e.g. Chevening) and other personal and professional development opportunities in the UK. This supports development and prosperity for the countries of origin and connects future African leaders to the UK for generations to come.
  • The programme supports international opportunities for the UK to innovate, involving a range of UK suppliers, particularly around digital.

Programme Details


Phase 1 (pilot: October 2018 to March 2019): Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal

Phase 2 (May 2019 to March 2020): Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal continued from Phase 1, plus Angola, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea (Conakry), DRC (digital only), Niger

Phase 3 (April 2020 to March 2021): Angola, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC (digital only), Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal continued from Phase 2, plus Benin, Mozambique


We are focusing on urban youth (18-35) as the main beneficiaries: young entrepreneurs, future leaders, educators and learners (equal gender balance). This demographic is most accessible online and offline, and represents the demographic with the greatest demand for English.

By adopting a fusion way of working (bringing together FCDO, DIT and the BC) we aim to maximise impact and influence in support of wider development objectives in the region. We are doing this through early consultation with government departments on designing a collaborative approach to the programme, as well as ensuring broad representation on the Project Governance Board and joint agreement on KPIs.

Programme Activities

Programme activities focus on three main strands:

1. Access to broadcast, digital and on and off-line English resources for young people

2. Professional development for teachers along with strengthening of their communities of practice

3. Engagement with ministries of education and others on English language provision, in conjunction with FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office)