Pupils in the Western Isles will soon be offered the chance to take lessons in Mandarin, thanks to a pioneering educational project which uses a live video link to provide a greater range of school subjects.
“E-sgoil” was established last year, in part to address a lack of teachers in the rural secondaries, and has grown considerably over recent months.
It now has formal links with educational authorities across Scotland and is attracting the interest of rural education providers in Ireland and Wales.
The latest development is in Mandarin lessons. A recruitment process is now underway to attract suitable teachers to the islands to deliver classes in the language to island pupils. It will also be offered to other schools across the country that maybe interested in tapping into the potential.
Project head Angus MacLennan said: “We’ve been conducting a personalisation and choice programme with pupils across the Western Isles and Mandarin has featured prominently in that,” he said. “I think that’s come about because pupils are better informed about the wider economy and how that relates to jobs and qualifications. They’re seeing the potential to earn and learn through Mandarin.
“If you look at the economy of the Western Isles at the moment you’ve got the whisky distillery in Harris and the Harris Tweed industry that have benefited hugely from investment by the Chinese. There are huge sales opportunities in the Western Isles and indeed for Scotland in the growing Chinese market and people looking for business opportunities are well advised to develop their Mandarin skills.”