British Council in Ethiopia Building

The British Council

We were founded in 1934, and our first overseas offices opened in 1938, making us the oldest cultural relations organisation in the world. Originally, we were called the British Committee for Relations with Other Countries.

In our annual report for 1940-41, the aim was stated as:

‘to create in a country overseas a basis of friendly knowledge and understanding of the people of this country, of their philosophy and way of life, which will lead to a sympathetic appreciation of British foreign policy, whatever for the moment that policy may be and from whatever political conviction it may spring.’

Our work has evolved, but we continue to make a positive contribution to the countries we work with. 

Our Work in Ethiopia

The British Council has been working in Ethiopia since April 1942. Every year we connect with thousands of students, educators, policymakers, academics, creatives and entrepreneurs in Ethiopia. The focus of our work is on providing opportunities for young people through:

  • supporting young people to achieve the education, qualifications and skills needed to reach their potential in their future careers
  • creating and developing new networks and platforms to give young people a voice in society.

In the past 80 years, the British Council is proud to have been a pioneer in so many initiatives including:

• Established the General Wingate School and run it for more than 37 years making this our longest running programme so far

• Established the Anglo-Ethiopian Society

• Produced one of the first school television programmes in collaboration with the Centre for Educational Development Overseas 

• Was a pioneer in using multimedia products (16 mm film, drama/plays and etc) as far back as the 1940’s in promoting cultural relations

• Established the first ICT Centre with the Ministry of Education

• Established the first Internet Cafés whereby tourists in sites like Lalibela and Axum were able to connect with their families and friends

• We also run one of the most popular libraries in Ethiopia. Quoting one library user, ‘it was a cave of knowledge where we escaped from the propaganda of the military regime.’

Our Purpose

We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide.

We uniquely combine the UK’s deep expertise in arts and culture, education and the English language, our global presence and relationships in over 100 countries, our unparalleled access to young people and influencers and our creative sparkle.

We work directly with individuals to help them gain the skills, confidence and connections to transform their lives and shape a better world in partnership with the UK. We support them to build networks and explore creative ideas, to learn English, to get a high-quality education and to gain internationally recognised qualifications.