Will you join me and sign this open letter to Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, calling on the teaching and examination of Bengali to be protected in the UK? #SaveBengali
We are writing to encourage you to take urgent steps to protect the teaching of Bengali in England.
There is a strong possibility that A Level Bengali will be phased out in 2017 - which would be a significant loss both to the citizens of the UK who use and value the language and to our relationships with the Bengali community across the globe.
Since 2010, there has already been an 11% fall in the number of students taking Bengali at GCSE and a 41% fall at A Level.
There is considerable uncertainty as to whether any exam board will offer A Level exams in Bengali from 2017 onwards, although we understand your department is in ongoing discussions with AQA. We urge you to ensure that Bengali A Level qualifications continue to be offered beyond September 2017.
Bengali is the first language of the poet and musician Rabindranath Tagore. It is the seventh most widely spoken language in the world, with more than 210 million speakers particularly focused in Bangladesh and India. Both states are vital trading partners to the UK and in a globalised world, the ability to converse with communities, businesses and family across the world is vital if Britain is going to succeed. Equally, many in Harrow and across the UK feel a strong connection with Bangladesh and India, and Bengali is vital in order for them to retain community links in their mother tongue.
We urge you to offer support to encourage examination bodies to continue the A Level course and to support the ongoing professional development of Bengali teachers, similar to the sort that is available to all teachers in mainstream state schools, to ensure every British child who chooses is able to benefit from an education in Bengali.
We thank you for your attention,
Gareth Thomas MP
Member of Parliament for Harrow West