Jack McConnell went to Holmlea primary in Glasgow to launch the Scottish Schools Africa Challenge, a competition open to pupils in S1-S3. A website went live earlier today and gives further information (www.scottishschools africachallenge.com).
The deadline for entries, which can take various forms from a poem to a music CD, is March 31, and pupils are invited to investigate the benefits that links with Africa might bring.
The prize is not inconsiderable - a one-week trip to Malawi by the winners at the end of May when Mr McConnell will also be present, with the costs fully met by the Scottish Executive and the Hunter Foundation. The winning school will set up formal links with a Malawian school and host a visit by its pupils to Scotland later this year, again with all expenses paid.
The competition is the latest example of the Executive's determination to promote its internationalist credentials as the G8 summit of leading industrial nations holds its meeting in Gleneagles in July, presided over by the UK Government.
Mr McConnell is sending a letter to all headteachers drawing their attention to the importance of links between Scottish schools and those in Africa, pointing out that 152 Scottish schools already have African connections. "I want to take this opportunity, with the world's focus on Scotland, to build on those links and to think creatively about how Scotland's young people are encouraged to maintain the international outlook we so value," he states.
The First Minister adds: "This has to be an outlook that is neither self-serving nor paternalistic."
Meanwhile, The TES is launching a "Make the Link" campaign across the UK next week to encourage schools to create partnerships with colleagues in other countries and to link curriculum work to global issues.
Details next week