A new multi-million-pound scheme will use mobile apps like WhatsApp to allow British teachers and pupils to participate in joint activities with their counterparts in classrooms thousands of miles away.
The government-funded £38 million programme aims to link UK schools in long-term partnerships with schools in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The revamped initiative kicked off earlier this week with Year 6 students at St Joseph’s School in Wandsworth, London linking up in a lesson with pupils at the Marka Prep Girls’ School, in the Marka refugee camp in Jordan.
They were joined by education secretary Damian Hinds, and Love Actually director and Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis.
The Connecting Classrooms scheme through the Global Learning programme is designed to forge links between schools and communities in the UK and around the world.
The Department for Education said the three-year scheme plans to reach 60,000 teachers and three million pupils in Britain and other, developing, countries “to equip pupils with the knowledge and skills to live and work in a global economy”.
This will expand the first three years of the programme, which ran until earlier this year, and reached one million children around the world.
The programme promotes 17 United Nations development goals which target a more “sustainable future for all” by 2030.
The goals include such measures as supporting green companies with equal opportunity employers, helping children in your community to read as well as recycling.
Mr Hinds said: “At St Joseph’s I saw children of different faiths and backgrounds working together and learning from each other. That kind of collaboration is a lesson for us all.”
In the UK, the scheme is jointly funded by the British Council who will contribute £17 million, with the rest coming from the Department for International Development. The programme will involve schoolchildren aged between 7 and 14.