The SNP will eliminate fees for learning a musical instrument in schools, Education Secretary John Swinney has announced.
The party said it will, if re-elected on May 6, invest £18 million in the project to ensure poor children have the same opportunities as their more well off counterparts.
The current system is run by local councils, despite entreaties from the Scottish Government in recent years to drop the charges.
But the SNP manifesto, which will be published this week, will pledge the extra funding needed to local authorities to scrap the fees.
Speaking to the Times, John Swinney said: “The last year has been incredibly tough for children and young people across Scotland but the SNP is more committed than ever to putting in place a solid plan to support recovery and increase opportunities for every child to achieve their full potential.
“Participation in music and the arts can have a hugely positive impact on the wellbeing and attainment of our children and young people, providing them with opportunities to be creative, develop their imaginations and experience inspiration and enjoyment.
“This will build on our record of promoting equality of opportunity across all local authority schools and ensure that music tuition remains accessible for all.”
Mr Swinney also confirmed the move on Twitter on Wednesday morning, describing it as a “bold initiative”.
The funding will come from the existing budget, he told the newspaper.
The party also said it will aim to make music a core subject in Scotland’s schools, as well as ensuring music tutors are accredited by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Beatrice Wishart said her party supports the SNP plans, but she added: “The difference between SNP and Liberal Democrat proposals is that the SNP have spent 14 years cutting local authority budgets, making it harder for children and young people to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and overlooking the importance of this experience.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to put the education recovery first.
“That means giving every pupil access to a world-class education in every subject.”
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