Scottish Government Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP

For International Education Week 2017 we asked John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, about the Scottish Government's efforts to engage young people in international activity

It may be helpful to reflect on the position that the Scottish Government has established, and the priority it sees in this work. The First Minister has made clear that tackling poverty and inequality in Scotland is one of this Government's central aims and the Scottish Government is clear that inequality and poverty is not restricted to our borders - it is a global issue that needs a global response. Active engagement in the EU, and internationally, makes a major contribution to the Scottish economy. Scotland has always been an outward-looking nation, embracing the world beyond our borders and making a contribution to the international community.

The Scottish Government continues to deepen its relationships with key countries in the pursuit of furthering sustainable economic growth in Scotland, increasing Scotland's profile on the world stage and contributing as a good global citizen towards the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Global Goals. Education Scotland also support education and skills providers, encouraging them to have a positive outlook and wider perspective, preparing our young people to flourish in a global economy.  

With this in mind we are proud to see our schools, colleges and universities encourage our young people to learn about international affairs, and where practical, to benefit from partnership working or international exchange through programmes such as Erasmus+. We would encourage our institutions to ensure that our learners have the skills and competences to engage and work with organisations beyond Scotland’s borders, contributing to Scotland’s prosperity and ensuring its contribution to global society. 

Having an international outlook, developed and supported in our schools, colleges and universities, will help prepare our young people to prosper. There are clear benefits in being aware of the different cultures and expectations in different communities and different countries, and a better understanding of the world puts us in a better position to make a positive contribution to peace and prosperity. Technology has also made the world a smaller place, and international contacts and experiences are more common than ever. To equip Scotland and its young people to live and work in our increasingly global society, it is essential that our education and skills provision builds the knowledge and capability to work well in an international environment. International Education Week is a helpful focus to remind us to strengthen our efforts to engage all our young people in international activity as preparation for learning life and work.  

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