Thu 23 Jan, 2020

I’m pleased that the SQA have responded so quickly to Green concerns about the human rights abuses taking place in countries where they’re drumming up business. Ross Greer

Scotland’s exams body has moved quickly to clean up its overseas business after pressure from the Scottish Greens, it has emerged.

At the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee, the SQA confirmed a new system of human rights checks and appraisals would be in place from April. [1]

This comes after Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer repeatedly raised the agency’s relationship with government departments in Saudi Arabia.

Giving evidence, the SQA admitted it has yet to certify a single candidate taking an IT course run in Saudi Arabia since 2017, and confirmed any direct relationships with government departments were “historical contracts”.

Commenting, Ross Greer said: “I’m pleased that the SQA have responded so quickly to Green concerns about the human rights abuses taking place in countries where they’re drumming up business. We’ve robustly made the case that it is unacceptable to train staff of the Saudi Arabian government at a time when that country is bombing buses full of children in Yemen, for example. That’s not to mention the nearly 200 of their own citizens the Saudi regime beheaded last year.

“It’s really welcome that this new human rights-based approach will be in place from April and will include an alert system for ongoing monitoring once a business link has been established. The SQA’s commitment to publish details of their human rights checks in full is also welcome transparency.

“What’s now key is that they learn from the mistakes of other government agencies, who have often created human rights tests which are impossible to fail, and instead deliver a system which ensures Scottish government activities abroad are conducted to the high ethical standards we all expect.”

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