Penpals are out as McConnell opens a window on the world

14th September 2001 at 01:00
SCHOOLS have been encouraged to look out if they want to look inside to see themselves, in an approach Rabbie Burns would surely have approved of. By adopting an international dimension, young Scots can establish their place in the global world - and not just in Europe, the Scottish Executive believes.

South Africa, Australia and New Zealand could equally well be the focus of fresh links that open up young people's understanding of who they are and where they come from, Jack McConnell, Education and External Affairs Minister, said in launching the revised strategy on international education.

With new technology - from e-mail to video conferencing - opening up communication, schools could look well beyond their traditional partners, Mr McConnell said. Traditional "penpal" contact would become a thing of the past.

The strategy, An International Outlook: Educating Young Scots about the World, follows a consultation last year and is designed to lift the status of formal and informal curriculum links on international projects.

Mr McConnell said: "This is not a document intended to sit on a shelf. It's a working tool for taking forward the future development of the international dimension of education in Scotland."

He pledged to place the muscle of his department behind improved links and outlined a strategy for schools and local authorities. The document stresses that schools need coherent, properly planned and budgeted programmes that are built into a development plan.

It accepts many teachers are unsure how their subjects can meet the aims. "All external examination syllabuses in the National Qualifications framework offer opportunities to study topics with international significance, yet bringing these together for senior pupils into a coherent international education experience remains elusive."

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