Written evidence submitted by The British
THE BRITISH COUNCIL IN SOUTH AFRICA
The Council's purpose in South Africa is to:
Enhance the UK's reputation with
the authority generation by supporting their transformation agenda.
Demonstrate UK creativity and innovation
to the young South Africans who will influence the country's future.
Strengthen civil society though developing
access to information and through developing leadership.
Operating through a main office in Johannesburg
and three smaller offices in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban the
Council uses the following income to achieve its purpose, (using
Grant in Aid
Higher Education Grant
These resources include income from our enterprise
activity, our income from managing development contracts for clients
and sponsorship or partnership funding. They exclude the operational
value of the development contracts we manage on behalf of clients,
which adds a further £1.7 million of expenditure through
our accounts. Our overall impact in financial terms is therefore
£5.15 million. It is important to realise however that the
South Africa operation works with four other countries in a unified
These resources support the following programmes
in education and training, governance and the arts and science,
organised under three thematic campaigns. Each campaign will use
all types of Council activity to achieve its goals.
Training for change
We work in partnership with South African organisations
to support education and skills development at all levels to meet
the challenges of our changing societies and work at all levels
of educational provision.
We manage a framework agreement with the Department
of Education and the Colleges Collaboration Fund (a private sector
social investment mechanism) to support national reform in Further
Education & Training which accesses Rand 40 million of private
sector resource and which has developed long term relationships
between South African and UK colleges.
The school-linking programme has brought more
than one hundred and fifty UK and South African schools together
and focuses directly on curriculum development and good practice
We also manage thirty two university links under
the Higher Education Links Scheme, funded by the DfID Higher Education
Grant (that will terminate in 2005-06).
Other areas of activity include assistance to
the merging of South African higher education institutions, the
development of school leadership and assisting with the institutional
development of the South African Higher Education Quality Council
and the Qualifications Authority.
We include in this campaign the offer of UK
examination opportunities in South Africa, offering career choice
and internationally recognised qualifications to South Africans
on a fee-paying basis.
Finally but prominently we manage the Chevening
Scholarships on behalf, and in conjunction with the FCO, to identify
and offer postgraduate training to young South African future
Building our democracies together
We work in partnership with South African institutions
to strengthen and promote good governance, a human rights culture
and to generate better democratic participation in our two countries.
This includes the Strategic Leadership Training
Programme for Southern Africa providing leadership training to
the South African successor generation, drawing participation
from civil society and non-governmental organisations.
An annual high profile event is UKUZA (United
Kingdom Unites with South Africa), a bilateral forum strengthening
networks of young politicians, artists, academics and influential
personalities from the public, private and civil society sectors,
who engage in debate around such issues as identity. The programme
achieves a degree of profile that does not target specific sector
interests but engenders mutual understanding and common values
between people of influence.
We also manage a Child Rights Project contributing
to research dialogue and capacity development in the areas of
the rights of the child. This project specifically draws on experience
and expertise from Wales through their Children's Commissioner.
The Access to Information and Whistleblowing
Project links South African, UK and Indian civil society and watchdog
organisations to promote a more transparent, open and accountable
South Africa. The project focuses on two new items of legislation,
the Protected Disclosures Act and the promotion of Access to Information
Partners in innovation
The campaign focuses on showing UK creativity
and innovation in the Arts and Sciences, and is the channel through
which we achieve wide spread impact on young people in South African
society by direct exposure to events, performances and other interactions
that bring the vibrancy of UK cultural life to their notice. Examples
of such activity follow.
We send young aspiring South African scientists
to the London International Youth Science Forum to meet their
UK counterparts and in 2003 are circulating an exhibition celebrating
the Discovery of DNA throughout the country.
We ensure at least one performing arts tour
each year focusing particularly on young audiences and have in
the last two years provided access to some of the most innovative
performers from the UK music scene in rap, hip-hop and other types
We manage the New Writing Workshops for Radio
Drama in partnership with the BBC and the Performing Arts Network
of South Africa, developing skills and opportunities in radio
drama. In 2003 we also worked with the Encounters Documentary
Film Festival to showcase cutting edge UK work.
Three years ago we started to build a profile
in Sport, beginning with the mass appeal Football Nation Exhibition,
our participation in the multilateral Dreams and Teams project
(developing young people's leadership and coaching skills, including
life skills, in several countries) and forming a relationship
with key sporting personalities in the country.
Coincident with the first ever onshore England-South
Africa football match in early 2003 we established and mounted
an exhibition on sporting relations between the UK and South Africa,
documenting in particular the UK role in the anti-apartheid campaigns
of the 70s-90s. At the same time we co-ordinated the presentation
of over 5,000 different football strips, all donated by English
football fans, for distribution to young footballers in disadvantaged
Fan ambassadorship is now an increasingly important
part of our South African programme and we have developed a number
of relationships between UK and South African fan groups. As the
universal sport football offers a powerful means of building contemporary
relationships based on common understanding. Sport is likely to
play an increasing role in our programme and will hopefully develop
into a full campaign.
We manage a varied portfolio of projects on
behalf of major donors in South Africa, including DfID, which
contribute directly to the social and economic development of
the country. Some examples are:
A seminal pilot project to support HIV/Aids
prevention in the penal system in South Africa. Starting with
Westville Prison, the largest prison in Southern Africa, and the
Kwa-Zulu Natal Correctional Services department we used our global
network to access expertise and experience form the Uganda Prisons
Service, providing capacity development and skills transfer to
South Africa. The evaluation determined the project to be highly
successful and it is now expected that the programme will roll
out nationally under the auspices of DfID's Safety, Security and
Access to Justice programme.
For 10 years we have managed the British Investment
Scheme, funded by DfID and targeting small and medium sized enterprises
in the UK and South Africa to promote successful investment and
joint ventures to encourage local economic development, income
generation and employment in South Africa.
The Support to Economic Reform Programme also
invests in high level capacity development in three key Ministries,
the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Public
Enterprises and the National Treasury, making available international
experience and expertise to review, assess and reform service
delivery within these key institutions.
In 2000 the British Council corporately implemented
a strategy to redistribute its resources according to defined
geographical priorities and to transform its impact overseas.
In Africa this meant a concentration of resources in two key priority
countries, South Africa and Nigeria. In the former our strategy
has set out to improve efficiency but also to provide a modern
and effective approach to delivering cultural relations impact
for the UK. Its key characteristics are the following.
There are two aspects to integration. The first
is how we relate to other UK agencies including our sponsoring
department, the FCO, and secondly how we organise ourselves.
Through the British High Commission, the Council
participates in two structures that provide for "joined up"
government. The first is the Director's membership of the High
Commissioner's regular Board of Management ensuring information
transfer and co-ordination among UK agencies working here. The
second is participation in the task forces established to keep
in touch with priority policy issues for the UK in South Africa.
A rewarding consequence of this process is increasing levels of
collaboration at activity level, enabling wider exposure of UK
HMG staff to South African networks and better understanding by
South Africans of the UK presence in the country. Equally important
is a growing understanding the of the different organisational
cultures we work in.
Internally we have reorganised our team around
activity managers who drive an action plan related to each campaign.
The team are distributed across the four offices as we believe
this enables us to use talent most effectively where we find it
and to ensure good communication facilities are available. Central
teams in Johannesburg operating the programme are supported in
the smaller offices by activity delivery managers who support
local delivery as needed. The effect has been to create a single
integrated South African (and regional) programme, in contrast
to our earlier disposition which entailed three separate and usually
distinct programmes in each of our three offices (prior to the
opening of the Pretoria office).
The British Council in South Africa operates
as the central component of a regional Council network including
our activity in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Mauritius. This
provides for a network of eight offices working as one operational
unit. The process has several advantages in terms of efficiency
and effectiveness. Feedback from our partners has been universally
supportive and enthusiastic for the opportunities it affords them.
On the former we have been able to remove duplicated
support services by centralising accounting, personnel and other
services to free up resource for programme delivery. Our goal
was to improve the ratio of spend between programme and overhead
costs programme from around 35% to 50%. By the end of 2003-04
this goal will have been achieved.
On effectiveness we operate a regional programme
that enables nationals from all five countries to interact with
each other through regional, cross border activities. This enables
economies of scale, better use of our human resource talent across
the five countries and an increase in impact as our target groups
appreciate the enhanced access they enjoy to UK networks as well
as their professional peers in neighbouring countries. This enriches
the content, builds trust and exploits the unique capacity the
Council has to build and maintain cross border, multilateral networks
of professional interest. The gain in trust is palpable and enables
the Council to support the NEPAD agenda in a very direct way.
It also presages and builds good practice in advance of the pan
African activities we have received new funding for in Africa.
The capacity to operate multilaterally is an increasing criteria
for success in building positive cultural relations among professional
groups and we are developing best practice in this regard.
The Council in South Africa has changed its
staff culture. We reduced the number of UK appointed staff we
expatriate to South Africa and increased the number of senior
South African staff that manage our programmes. Five years ago
there were no South Africans in our senior team whereas now 60%
of its membership comprise local staff.
Our motives have been first and foremost to
comply with Equity of Employment legislation and to demonstrate
our support to transformation through our own employment practice.
Additionally we have recruited local professionals to manage all
our programme activity, bringing with them not only local expertise
but access to existing professional networks. Employing a full
time professional Human Resources Director we focus considerable
attention and resource on good employment practice and skills
development. We have five UK staff in South Africa and thirty
seven South African staff. Of the total forty two more than half
have regional responsibilities.
The Campaign structure of our programme has
also brought benefits, both to staff and how they work but also
to external stakeholders and target groups.
Firstly it enables us to focus resources on
a controlled spread of activities that support broader messages
about UK culture, ideas and achievements. There are approximately
sixty units of activity spread across the three campaigns in our
current year action plan. We aim to reduce the number in future
years in favour of fewer but larger units of activity achieving
higher profile and impact.
Secondly it enables interested parties to understand
our programme in a more open and transparent way.
Thirdly it facilitates the sharing of resources
and expertise in such a way that we are able to enhance impact
in the smaller countries in our region beyond the level of budget
they are able to access. We can get more bang for our buck. The
coherence and continuity of message also enable a better marketing
platform for extending impact to wider society through communication
activities, through the media, through events and through products
we disseminate through programmes.
A key part of our development is the commissioning
of primary market research into our target groups. As a transitional
society, South Africa is raising a new generation of adults whose
characteristics are not that well understood. They are from the
former disadvantaged communities but in the post apartheid period
have emerged as well educated, economically powerful consumers
with different habits, tastes and interests to their parents who
did not enjoy the opportunities they have grown up with. They
have not had UK exposure during the exile and scholarship era.
They will become the leaders of the future but do not have well
formed views about the UK. We need to find out about them and
cater to their interests.
In this regard there is a superb case study
of the BRUFS (British Undergraduates Fellowship Scheme) graduates,
a group of about 150 black South Africans who were trained to
degree level in the UK in the early 90s. The scheme was funded
by DfID and managed by the Council. They have now re-emerged as
a self-sustaining, dynamic alumni group who are forming strategically
important relationships with Trade Partners International and
other FCO colleagues. The relationship provides key access to
an important segment of African society through a group of Africans
who have an intimate understanding of the UK and its people.
Three million of Africa's seven million internet
users are in South Africa. The country has an effective electronic
infrastructure and associated services enabling us to concentrate
on using virtual services for delivery. Consequently we do not
provide the public access facilities one would typically associate
with a British Council office in Africa or Asia. Over 85% of enquiries
received are virtual.
We have invested in video conferencing, IT,
web based and call centre based facilities that enable us to achieve
economies and to stand at the cutting edge of communication services
in Africa. Our enquiry service is outsourced as is the management
of our web services freeing up capacity devoted to better bespoke
research services by our information team in support of product
and service development in our campaigns. We increasingly invest
efficiency savings in bandwidth to cater for increasing communication
requirements. These will increase steadily as the Council introduces
new online management systems, products and services.
A clear priority for the next five years is
to build and deliver a sophisticated information and service delivery
system that will enable our customers to access information about
the UK rapidly, and increasingly to access services directly through
our electronic network, whether registering for an examination
or directly accessing study material through the internet.
We are now working with a Balanced Scorecard
to build up a clear picture of the impact of our work activities
and the performance improvements we can achieve year on year.
In addition individual project specific evaluations are carried
out to ensure achievement of objectives and to ensure we capture
good practice for transfer to other activity. In 2003-04 we will
produce baseline data covering a number of indicators which will
inform future planning and delivery.
The British Council is a crucial element of
the UK public diplomacy agenda in South Africa. We work with our
HMG partners to overcome a distinctly dated perception among South
Africans of UK society. The large British passport holding community
are not a key target group and often not supportive of the ideas
we espouse. Diversity, innovation and modernity are not values
they necessarily associate with the Britain of their imagination.
The new emerging black middle class equally do not share this
perception much beyond the icons of Beckham and Buckingham Palace.
They are however a group who are amenable to the culture we wish
to promote and are a sophisticated customer. Our challenge is
to assist their elders to progress post-apartheid transformation
and to ensure as the next generation inherit the mantle they will
turn to UK for opportunity, experience and expertise. Our challenge
is to understand their needs and to respond with services that
attract and retain their interest.
The British Council