The top Japanese diplomat to Scotland, Japanese Consul General Hajime Kitaoka has called for the inclusion of Japanese language in the curriculum of Scottish schools because he firmly believes that there is enough demand for Japanese culture and language in the country.
He conducted talks with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in the hope that the agency would consider the possibility of Japanese qualifications being introduced to the schools. Currently, the Scottish government and the SQA are already under pressure to deliver language classes to the country’s schools. The government is presently using a 1 + 2 program, where all primary pupils in Scotland are learning their native tongue as well as two other languages.
The SQA however, had to scrap Higher Russian, while Japan wishes to have a Higher qualification as well. At the same time, representatives from Austria, Switzerland and Germany are getting concerned that German language is dying in Scotland.
High demand for Japanese language
Consul General Kitaoka, who has been in Scotland for one year and eight months said that in that brief period, there had been a notable increase in interest, particularly among young people, in Japanese language and culture. He also added that his office at Edinburgh had been receiving so many requests from primary schools to visit their school and introduce Japanese language and culture to their pupils. One of the reasons for this is the increasing interest among the youth for Japanese food and Japanese manga cartoons.
He added that he wanted to utilize the current enthusiasm for Japanese culture to promote the Japanese language but he is also aware that there are many hurdles along the way. He approached the SQA because there are qualifications in Chinese, Gaelic, Urdu, Italian, Spanish, French and German in Scotland’s primary schools yet Japanese is not included in the roster. According to the SQA, a qualification for a language could only be introduced if there is enough demand for the language, and that strategic support from the councils and the government are present, as well as the availability of qualified teachers. They added that although they already had a meeting with the Japanese Consul General, they have explained that there is no plan to expand their language qualification roster presently although they also reiterated that they continuously review their program to see to it that the languages available satisfy the demand.
The inclusion of Higher Russian will be stopped in 2015 by the SQA, and the Russian Ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Dr. Alexander Yakovenko said that it was because not that many pupils were sitting in, although the figures showed that a 44 percent increase was registered. He is urging the government to save the qualification, saying that it would be economically and culturally vital to Scotland’s competitiveness in the future.
Meanwhile, the Swiss Consulate, the Austrian Consulate and the German consulate, headed by the Consulate General, Heinrich Schnettger, sent a joint statement to the Scottish government to request a commitment to secure the position of German language in their qualifications program.