International education will become increasingly important as the global economy calls upon various cultures to work together, says a leader with Red Deer Public Schools.
Robert Porkka, director of international education, said they’ve continued to expand programming because they see how vital it is to keep students ahead in the global game.
“It’s very interconnected and we’ll have to work with many different cultures,” said Porkka.
“So it’s important that students consider studying and learning skills such as a second language.”
It’s important for teachers to have international experiences so they can better relate to the students and particularly those who are moving here from all over the world, Porkka said.
During International Education Week which runs until today, Porkka is pushing the new International Certificate program being offered through Hunting Hills High School, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and Gateway Christian School.
Students will take a group of studies, have an international experience themselves, study a second language and doing some global citizenship work. At the end of Grade 12, they would receive this certificate.
The public education system has a long list of programs. The international student program involves up to 70 students from around the globe each year.
There’s a teacher exchange program, which currently has two teachers from Australia and two from Red Deer on exchanges until Christmas.
A Spanish bilingual program exists at G.H. Dawe Elementary School, plus there’s French immersion programs involving about 1,000 students. Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and French as a second language programs exist as well.
And a Chinese language program runs at West Park and Eastview Middle Schools. A teacher from China is responsible for the program for two years.
Paul Stewart, associate superintendent for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, said that international education is also important for children to understand other cultures. A number of students may be refugees or immigrants, and some may be here to come just for school.
“We want our schools to better understand where these students are coming from and how they do things,” said Stewart. “It’s not just the Canadian way. We learn to respect differences as well as our similarities.”
Stewart said their international programs are similar to Red Deer Public since they’ve worked in the past with them and Red Deer College.
A Japanese teacher and a Chinese teacher are here right now. The school district also has French immersion and Spanish options are offered in high school.
During this week, Catholic schools are doing various activities including having prayers and announcements in different languages read over some school PA systems.