Chinese and the Student Voice

25 November 2012

SCEN_Gleneagles_137.jpgLearning languages really matters and it is excellent to see the 1+2 plans. The Scotland China Education Network (SCEN) is passionate about the inclusion of Mandarin as one of the suite of languages offered in as many Scottish schools as possible. Ultimately, the aim of Curriculum for Excellence is to make our education system fit for the modern world and to improve young people's achievements, attainment and life chances. An education for the 21st century, helping young people to understand their role as global citizens and to secure work, must include a knowledge and understanding of China, its history, culture, politics and society. In the view of SCEN, it should also offer the opportunity to learn Mandarin, one of the three most frequently spoken languages. China is the home of 1.3 billion people in the world's most ancient surviving civilisation, now in the process of becoming a superpower and already a top performing economy.

Last session SCEN began hearing the pupil voice very strongly, especially at the Young China and Young Scotland event for senior phase pupils and young professionals, which took place in the grand surroundings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and saw the launch of SCEN Ambassadors. New Ambassadors this session will include Cat MacDonald and Leanne Bell, in S6 at James Gillespie's High School, who have taken the initiative to secure teaching in Mandarin from the Confucius Institute in Edinburgh.

Pupils in many other authorities are speaking out, and their voice was heard strongly at the recent SCEN China Youth Summit, held at Gleneagles Hotel on Monday 12 November. Gleneagles hosted the G8, the Group of Eight Leaders of industrialised nations, in 2005. Invited guests included Hu Jintao, President of China. Our SCEN China Youth Summit at Gleneagles in 2012 will be the G50, as our delegates comefrom 50 schools, colleges, universities and national bodies andassociations from across Scotland, and Consul General Li Ruiyou will be representing China! It was a marvellous occasion and we are determined it will have a real impact and legacy.
Dr Judith McClure CBE, Convener of SCEN