Rivers of the world logo
Rivers of the world

Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council's Connecting Classrooms initiative and with support from the HSBC Global Education Trust. The project links schools and over 2,000 young people around the world through a common theme: their local river.

"Rivers of the World enables young people from the UK and other countries to share, explore and celebrate their local environment, learn about other cultures and engage with global issues. By capturing their perspective on the world, these artworks are a striking reminder of how young people's creativity can provide a unique cultural insight." -Martin Davidson, the British Council's chief executive 

Global Connections for global issues

Each year students from London secondary schools are linked with schools in other countries. Over the course of two academic years, they study their river, or their partner city's river, and, with the help of professional local artists, they produce large scale artworks which are exhibited along the banks of the River Thames as part of the Mayor’s Thames Festival and also displayed in high profile locations in each of the participating cities. Three new countries join the programme each year while the schools who have finished their two year cycle continue to develop their partnership through other projects. By 2012 over 17 countries will have taken part in Rivers of the World. 

Rivers of the World has been endorsed by senior Ministry of Education officials in France and the project has been adapted to the context of the bilateral education agreement placing a strong focus on school linking and language learning as well as creativity. The pilot schools have been able to take advantage of the proximity of London and Paris to include teacher and student mobility as well as extensive on-line artistic and linguistic exchanges, practical workshops run by UK artists and an exhibition in each of the schools’ local town halls. In June 2011, the project resulted in an impressive open-air exhibition at the Parc de Bercy in Paris.

Getting involved

If you would like to run a similar project in your school, download the Rivers of the World toolkit below, which has been specially commissioned in France with the objective of allowing teachers in academies across the whole country to run successful school-linking projects. We hope that many more young people will be able to take part in Rivers of the World projects in the coming years and we look forward to seeing the impressive artwork displayed in other parts of the country!