Chinese Language, Culture and History

Scottish Executive Question Time — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 1st July 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh Scottish National Party 11:40 am, 1st July 2010

To ask the Scottish Government what funding and other resources it has allocated for the teaching of Chinese language, culture and history in schools, colleges and universities in the last two years and whether it is taking action to increase educational, economic and other contacts with China. (S3O-11149)

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

The cabinet secretary has asked to give the first part of his answer in Mandarin. Members will be grateful to learn that he will also provide a translation.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Zài guòqù liăngnián lĭ, wŏmen hé zhongguó jiàoyù jiànlì le liánhăo de hézuò guānxì. My apologies for the accent.

We have built good relationships with Chinese education over the past two years—and, as I think I have just shown, we are very committed to that.

In April 2008, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Education that sets out a framework for Scotland and China to work together in various areas of education. Through our funding of Learning and Teaching Scotland, the British Council Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, the Scottish Government has indirectly provided funding of approximately £300,000 over two years to the teaching of Chinese language and culture in Scottish schools, and in Scotland we now have 10 Confucius classroom hubs serving 15 local authorities.

Moreover, through Learning and Teaching Scotland we have supported groups of young people and their teachers to undertake immersion courses and summer study visits to China. We have also seen an increase in the number of qualified teachers of Chinese, and Learning and Teaching Scotland now has an agreement with Tianjin province that will provide seven Chinese teachers to work with the hubs in the academic year 2010-11. Last year we launched new national qualifications in Chinese languages at higher and advanced higher level to add to the qualifications at access and intermediate levels that were launched in 2007-08, and this year we have seen an increase of 250 in the number of presentations.

With regard to colleges and universities—

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

We have provided £115,000 to enable 91 students from colleges and universities to spend three weeks in China.

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh Scottish National Party

Nĭ huì shuō zhongguó huà hăo de! Russell bù zhăng. Xiè xiè.

I commend to the cabinet secretary the Open University's excellent Chinese language work and the now ever-increasing and generally available range of teaching materials that make Chinese language, history and culture more accessible than ever before at elementary and advanced levels. Will the Scottish Government do everything it can to strengthen Scotland's historical, cultural and economic links with China and build for the future through mutual respect, understanding and joint economic progress? Xiè xiè.

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I certainly will. We are building further educational links through the saltire scholarships for China, the higher education research partnership for PhD studies and the China scholarships for excellence. As my friend the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth knows, we are also building successful business collaborations. The relationship is good, strong and growing.