Figures from the House of Common’s library have revealed a decline in the number of students obtaining GCSE qualifications in Indian subcontinent languages such as Gujarati and Urdu.
The figures which were sourced by Labour and Coop MP, Gareth Thomas show an almost 22% decline, since 2015, in students studying Gujarati at GCSE Level and an almost 30% decline in those studying Urdu over the same period. The figures also show even more dramatic reductions, over the same period, in students obtaining Punjabi and Bengali GCSES with an over 39% and 51% decline respectively (1).
These four languages combined are spoken by approximately 480 million people worldwide, Bengali 230m(2), Punjabi 125m(3), Urdu 56m(4) and Gujarati 56m(5) and their importance to communities across the UK and indeed the world cannot be overstated.
Mr Thomas has recently highlighted that Britain appears to be losing the race to increase trade with India compared to the rest of the G7.(6)
The Harrow West MP, who led a successful campaign to persuade Ministers and Exam Boards to maintain GSCE and A-level language qualifications in community languages, said:
“Minister’s failure to invest in these languages is leading to a marked decline in the number of students taking exams. Given the need to turbocharge trade with India to create jobs and opportunities for British businesses losing language skills in India’s key languages is a serious concern.
Moreover, children learning these languages develop skills which help their performance in other parts of the curriculum.
Community efforts, through Temples and Saturday clubs, have been great at helping young people learn languages and I urge the Government to recognise the need to offer proper financial support to them to help local communities and schools to support young people learn these important languages.
(1) = As pictured above
(6) IMF Direction of Trade Statistics database – https://data.imf.org/regular.aspx?key=61013712
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