The Clerk, William Alden, rightly insists on absolute black tie for gentlemen at livery dinners. So it was with some trepidation that I asked if my guest, Mr Julius Mih, could come in colourful African robes! To my delight he readily agreed. For my guest, on his first visit to the UK, this became an amazing experience.
Working at the Ministry of Education in Cameroon, Julius Mih has an ambitious aim. He wants the next generation in his country to be fluent and literate in English, rather than to rely on French, as most do now. It will give children better access to the knowledge of the world, to jobs and travel opportunities. This trend is becoming evident more and more in francophone Africa. Currently, students may leave for higher education only to spend the first two years learning English. Meanwhile, government departments are daunted by receiving important international reports, but just in English.
My own involvement comes in the tradition of the Stationers' Company, in donating especially to education. I publish a programme for the early teaching of English reading and writing, Jolly Phonics, which has proved to be very effective, even for children new to the language. A donor programme of ours, Jolly Futures, provides free materials and pays for trainers, to get the process started, and then gives rights for continuity.
In a country like Cameroon, providing resources like this goes a long way. It is not just the cost, but the immediate availability, and the development of local ability for the longer term. The first steps are now about to be taken, with the in-country work being done by NGO partners of ours, Universal Learning Solutions. The government acceptance is now there, for national adoption, so the task is ours to deliver. If there are Stationers who would like to know more about this work, and even to get involved, then please do contact me at email@example.com
In the photo you can see Mr Mih with Chris in the background.