The world is in our hands

Scotland needs to be more proactive in selling its educational expertise to an international market, the head of the Scottish Qualifications Authority has said.

Anton Colella, chief executive of the SQA, has called for Scots to be less modest about their achievements and more ready to capitalise on Scottish education's reputation for quality as developing countries seek assistance in reforming their systems.

Mr Colella was speaking to The TES Scotland as, ironically, it emerged that one of the SQA's ambitious ventures - its expansion into the Chinese market - had taken a knock with the suspension of a centre at Dalian University over allegations of exam cheating.

But Mr Colella, who took over the top job at the SQA last year and helped steer the authority to recovery after its exams crisis of 2000, is determined to press ahead.

"In an environment where education is increasingly global and where English-speaking qualifications are increasingly global, then what really does Scotland have planned in the future?" he asked. "Whether we are comfortable with this legacy or not, it is a legacy we should be proud of.

You can go to many places in the world and there is a sense of the quality and of the influence of Scottish education."

While still at the vision stage, his idea is of a Scottish Education International body which could call on education leaders in Scotland, active or recently retired, to act as consultants in countries needing advice on development.

Potential exports were the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, its system of inspection and quality assurance for schools, and its exams qualifications framework, he said.

"English is going to dominate education more in the future and we are seeing a lot of countries being far more assertive in exporting what they have - Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and Ireland. Why should Scotland not take its place?"

He proposed that a cadre of experts be created who could work with Scottish agencies or the Scottish Executive to bid for education development projects offered for tender by the EU or the World Bank.

Mr Colella envisages that the SQA might become a partner since it already generates a high volume of international visitors to examine its work and is taking part in ventures with Botswana, Egypt, countries in the Caribbean and Armenia.

A spokesman for the Executive said it "shares the SQA's interest in raising the profile of Scottish education abroad and is already doing so through global events being hosted by Scotland such as the 15th Conference of Commonwealth Ministers, the World Youth Congress and G8.

"The Education Minister also met recently with his German and Finnish counterparts to discuss how best to promote international links."

The SQA sits on the Scottish International Education Advisory Group, along with the Executive and other organisations including the General Teaching Council for Scotland, Learning and Teaching Scotland and HMI.

"That would be the ideal forum for the SQA to raise its ideas for further promoting Scottish education internationally," the Executive spokesman said.

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