Kolkata, Jul 6 The West Bengal government today signed an MoU with the British Council aiming at promoting cultural, educational and skill development exchanges between the UK and the state.
The MoU was signed between British Council in India Director Alan Gemmell OBE and state Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya in presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The MoU, celebrating the British Council's 70th anniversary in India, is focused on English language training in the school system and higher education, research collaboration and capacity building in higher education and cultural collaboration between the UK and the state.
Skill development and tourism are also in the ambit of the MoU.
"It's a big moment. This will strengthen the relation between West Bengal and the UK. It will start a new era," the chief minister said at the signing programme.
As an immediate outcome of the MoU, Durga Puja will be in focus in the UK during the Totally Thames festival, an annual celebration of the river Thames to be held between August 18 to September 30, Gemmell said.
Banerjee said representatives of the state government would be sent in the UK during the Thames festival.
The state government would also host a River Festival on the Hooghly in the city on the lines of the Totally Thames Festival.
Banerjee also said that representatives from the UK would also be invited to the Durga Puja Carnival on the Red Road along with the River Festival on Hooghly.
Besides, it also focused on the exchanging visitors between the UK and Bengal for cultural exchanges, and overall enhancement of employability of our youth, Gemmell said.
Banerjee had earlier put up on a Facebook post that it was she, who had raised these issues during her visit to the UK, after which Baroness Usha Prashar, Member of the House of Lords and Global Deputy Chairperson of British Council, had come to Kolkata to take the initiative forward.
The British Council has helped train 163 West Bengal Civil Services Executive officers to enhance their communicative English skills, Gemmell said.
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