I cannot help but say that it would appear that the British government is trying to encourage the citizens of the United Kingdom to take yet another step away from Europe. This time it is in relation to speaking a foreign language.

The British are not famous for being polyglots and evidently the wide use of English throughout the world makes it easy for the indolent to muddle by in this language. I very much doubt that our editor could argue another side to this coin, as he is a good example of someone who has learnt more than one language.

Yet I have heard and read that Mr Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary for the UK, has said the compulsory curriculum for GCSE students will be trimmed. It will no longer be obligatory to study foreign languages or design and technology.

Teenagers will only have to take GCSE in maths, English and science. They will, however, have to continue with lessons in citizenship, religious education, sex education, careers education and PE. They will also have to “learn about work and enterprise”, whether they are academically minded or more interested in job–related courses.

Up until now, the British National Curriculum stated that schools had to offer, in key stages 3 and 4, one or more of the official working languages of the European Union (Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, or Swedish). But that will all go by the wayside, and children were shown on the news to be happy about being able to learn how to screw on a plug and an electrical point, rather then have to memorise French verbs.

But isn't that only natural? Anything practical is always much more fun for a pupil, getting on a coach and being taken to a nearby laboratory takes up so much time and makes the day far more interesting than practising how to roll a double rr in Spanish or the guttural ch in German.

I cannot believe that a Government that should be doing its utmost to encourage an improvement in people's intellect, does not think that learning at least one foreign language is a necessity when Britain is an active member of the UE. But somewhere in the back of my mind is the expression, ignorant citizens, powerful governments and that is a shameful thought to have but I have had it.

The National Curriculum web page states that Citizenship covers three areas: Social and moral responsibility from the very beginning – self–confidence and socially and morally responsible behaviour both in and beyond the classroom, towards those in authority and towards each other.

Community involvement -learning about becoming helpfully involved in the life and concerns of the neighbourhood and communities, including learning through community involvement and service to the community.

Political literacy - learning about the institutions, problems and practices of our democracy and how to make oneself effective in the life of the nation, locally, regionally and nationally through skills and values as well as knowledge – a concept wider than political knowledge alone.

In fact if we all learnt this concept of citizenship it would be a better, but evidently Utopian world with no need for prisons or police.
All those school subjects, such as citizenship, sex education, careers education I think are all very plausible and are naturally destined to improve the children's general education for life. But if they are not educated in academic subjects, surely they are going to be a group of respectful but ignorant morons.

Anne Kay

A big thank you

Dear Editor, As so many letters you receive are of complaints about various aspects of life here in Majorca I thought I would write one of praise.
My Doctor at the Clinica Juaneda (whom I won't name) inadvertently gave me an appointment for Monday, San Sebastian, for a small test.
I arrived for the due time only to find the surgical department and all its surrounds virtually deserted, “it's Fiesta” they said.
In short, the Dr was notified at home of my presence. He came immediately and apologising profusely for his error found an anaesthetist also willing to come and they then carried out the “operation”. So all credit to the Clinica for putting the necessary facilities at their disposal, apparently just for me! Hence this letter of praise and of course thanks.

G.D.Turner. Sa Cabaneta

Dear Editor,
I write to thank your Chef Marc Fosh on his two recipes for Lomo Con Col from Sunday's Bulletin. Whilst sobrasada and butifarron are hard to come by in Central Scotland, my local supermarket now sells a decent chorizo and salchichon and various heart stopping black puddings!! I can assure you the scent of Majorcan Country Cooking will drift across my street this week.

Mark Strachan. Livingston, Scotland

Dear Editor,
In delightful contrast to the relentless media–blitz that batters us each day with what we should or should not do with Iraq and North Korea, how we resolve the poverty of Africa, reverse the spread of HIV, and similar woes, we have the brilliant Op/Ed debates from the Majorca Daily Bulletin. Full praise for such engaging polemics as the future architecture for Ground Zero in NYC and the splendid and thoughtful offering on how best to see and hear opera in the New Age. That's journalism at its best– and what a blessed relief!

Joseph Raff. Port Pollença

Editor's note: To counterbalance the gloomy news on the world stage the Bulletin has introduced a “Good news” column in which readers can say a big thank you to people who have come to their aid.