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Children urged to 'emigrate' to get a view on the world

Cultivating special relationships with particular countries should be part of a strategy for international education in Scotland, according to an Executive report.

Pupils could link with Catalonia because of the change in Scotland's political status. Canada and New Zealand are also suggested because of historical and cultural relations, while Finland and Ireland have similar characteristics and problems.

The idea of bilateral agreements is among a range of suggestions to be pursued within a national strategy which seeks among other things to take the international dimension beyond the European Union.

There should be an advisory group involving local authorities and teacher education institutions which would bring ideas to the Executive, along with an annual conference to promote the latest developments. The draft report, Outlook International, which will be the subject of a two-day conference at the end of August, also suggests a Scottish international education week each year.

Because of devolution "Scotland's presence in the world is being noted," the report states. "It is essential that we open the minds of our young people to the problems and possibilities of the new Scotland wthin the global context. We must also balance that process by educating them about the issues in the world around them, in which they will increasingly play an active part."

Among the international themes within the curriculum that teachers at all stages should consider are: authors and poets in English, artists and art forms in art, musicians and styles in music, physical land forms and economic features in geography, international conflict and co-operation in history and the role of sport worldwide.

Links with young people abroad, especially using information technology, are not only enjoyable but focus on global issues of concern to them.

Among these, the report identifies the environment and the impact of pollution and population growth; deprivation and its significance for social relations at home and abroad; the north-south divide between the hungry and affluent worlds; values such as equality and justice in society and politics; and racism and prejudice, including their manifestations in Scotland.

Comments on the Executive's draft report should be sent by November 3 to Hope Johnston, International Relations Branch, SEED, Area 2A, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.

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