Polish ambassador calls for Polish to be taught in Scottish schools

Polish Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki

The Polish ambassador has called for his country’s language to be taught in Scottish schools.

Arkady Rzegocki said he had raised the issue with ministers since taking up his post last year.

He also told the Press and Journal that schools in Poland have “much more knowledge” about Britain and Scotland than their counterparts here.

Mr Rzegocki, who visited Scotland two weeks ago, said: “From my perspective it’s a really great opportunity and great chance because we need more information about Poland and about central Europe generally in British schools, in Scottish schools.

“And also the Polish language should be learned as a foreign language.”

He added: “This lack of knowledge is a real barrier from my perspective, a real barrier to better economical cooperation.

“It’s fair to say we have much, much more knowledge about Britain, about Scotland in Polish schools, in Poland, so we have to make it more equal.”

He also said he is trying to encourage more Polish people to visit Scotland and vice versa.

And he highlighted Polish Heritage Day next month, which he described as an opportunity for British and Polish people to learn more about each other’s history and customs.

There are around 90,000 Polish people in Scotland and 13,000 Polish children in Scottish schools, according to the ambassador.

He added that Polish is the largest Slavic language in the EU and a good base language for learning others too.

Last year, in the wake of the Brexit vote, the Scottish Government agreed to consider introducing Polish language qualifications.

Education Secretary John Swinney said he would look at giving Polish a place on the curriculum alongside other languages.

Meanwhile, Mr Rzegocki described Brexit as a “problem” but also an “opportunity” for better bilateral cooperation between Poland and the UK, adding: “We just have to use it.”

He added: “I hope Brexit won’t be a barrier but it depends on the negotiations of course.

“From my perspective good relations with the UK in many aspects are crucial, very, very important for Europe, the EU and the UK.”