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Scotland: Double Mandarin qualifications by 2017

A group of Scottish MSPs have called for an increase in Mandarin language teaching across all school levels as part of a larger plan to increase trade opportunities for Scottish business in China and encourage more Chinese investment in Scottish industry and infrastructure.

MSPs have set a target to double the current number of school students gaining qualifications in Mandarin by 2017. As of now, there are just six public high schools that offer Chinese language courses, all based in Edinburgh.

“During our inquiry, we heard that the Chinese market represents the same economic opportunities as America did 100 years ago and to neglect these would put Scotland at a serious disadvantage,” European and External Relations Committee Convener, Christina McKelvie, MSP said.

“We heard that the Chinese market represents the same economic opportunities as America did 100 years ago”

Conclusions from the European and External Relations Committee‘s inquiry for the Country Plan for China found that language was often a barrier to Scotland’s trade with China but that educational and cultural partnerships are “the most important way to strengthen links with China and increase Scotland’s profile as a place to study and visit”.

The report flags the Confucius Institute, currently with 10 Classrooms around Scotland that serve as local hubs for the learning of Chinese language and culture, as a working well to develop links between the two countries.

However, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has recommended that in order to meet the target, there needs to be a “more focused, strategic direction from Scottish government”.

“The continued involvement and support of Scottish Government both in China and fostering greater understanding in Scotland is greatly welcomed,” it said.

“We would therefore like to see this not only maintained but increased, as setting the strategic context and direction facilitates the practical activities that will ensure the successful implementation of the China Plan,” the SQA added.

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