International education should be a central part of A Curriculum for Excellence, the Deputy Education Minister has been told, and it should not be bolted on as an extra subject.
Although the Scottish Executive has halved the pound;4 million budget for international education, Robert Brown told a seminar on the subject that Hugh Henry, the Education Minister, was reviewing the decision.
Several delegates at the Inter-nationalising Scottish Education forum, organised by the British Council, said the subject fulfilled the four core aims of ACfE, particularly creating confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
Edna Paterson of Glasgow City Council is one of only two dedicated international education officers in Scotland. She backed that message and said: "It is important for young people and teachers to understand the value of international education. It has been my vision for 30 years - it would be wonderful if it is not going to be added-on, but integral to every subject in the curriculum."
Sheila Lumsden, deputy director of British Council Scotland, said every school should offer it. "I would argue Scotland cannot deliver the new curriculum if international education is not part of it," she said. "It is not an add-on, it is an absolute must for Scotland and Scotland's young people if we are all to be the global customers of tomorrow. We need to have a systematic approach."
Mr Brown stressed his own support: "Not all schools will go at the same pace or be able to access it in the same way. There will be funding issues and some schools will be starting out, so there will be different levels of engagement. I want to see every school in Scotland involved in some form of international activity. It can make learning more relevant and fun, and the issue of motivation, particularly in secondary school, is very central to keeping pupils engaged."
French teacher Thea Pallut told MSPs and delegates of her experience taking pupils from Grantown Grammar to China for a two-week summer school. "One pupil was going to study French after school but, after the summer school, decided she wanted to study Chinese, and has won a place at Edinburgh University."
For information on the British Council's overseas links: www.britishcouncil.org