UK schoolkids have least global outlook: Study


A a new study by the British Council in India and nine other countries has disclosed that British schoolchildren are the least interested in doing so. Of schoolchildren surveyed in 10 countries for their international outlook, Nigeria topped the list. British schoolchildren were at the bottom of the list.

The British Council study showed that over a quarter of British schoolchildren did not feel that it was important to learn a foreign language. In contrast, 97 per cent Indian schoolchildren felt it was important to do so.

Martin Davidson, chief executive of the British Council, said, “Our schoolchildren cannot afford to fall behind the rest of the world. For the UK to compete in a global economy, it is vital that we encourage our young people to have an interest in and engagement with the world around them.

Researchers interviewed 4,170 people aged 11-16 with Internet access at home in 10 countries. It was conducted online in Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Spain, Britain and the US. It was conducted face-to-face in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia with schoolchildren who had Internet access at home. They were asked a range of questions to ascertain their international outlook, including attitudes towards language learning and international affairs. Results were scored on an index with seven being the highest and zero the lowest. Nigeria (5.15) came top of the table, followed by India (4.86) and Brazil (4.53). Britain scored the lowest, 2.19.

When asked whether they saw themselves as citizens of the world or of their own country, most of the schoolchildren, including those in India, saw themselves first and foremost as world citizens and then as citizens of their own country. However, schoolchildren in the UK, US and the Czech Republic were exceptions — they saw themselves more as citizens of their own country than world citizens.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the figures hid “a huge range of positive activity” in British schools.