Students make their way to Vesterbro Ny Skole on Monday as Danish schools reopen for the new year. Photo: Jens Astrup/Scanpix 2016)
In at least 23 municipalities, officials plan to place refugee children directly into the public school system even if they haven’t yet mastered the local language.
Broadcaster TV2 surveyed officials in Denmark’s 98 municipalities on their plans to educate refugee children. Of the 75 municipalities that responded, 23 of them said that refugee kids would be placed in normal classes rather than special introductory courses that have been offered in the past. A number of additional municipalities said that they are considering following course.
In most instances the school officials said that special language training and other initiatives would be available to the refugee children, but that hasn’t stopped the Danish Union of Teachers (Danmarks Lærerforening) from criticizing the plans.
“Under all circumstances, this will mean that a student who doesn’t speak Danish will require something extra and that will naturally take away from the other students,” the union’s deputy chair, Dorte Lange, told TV2.
Although his municipality told TV2 it would not be placing refugee children in normal classes this year, Aalborg Mayor Thomas Kastrup-Larsen said that mixing refugees with other Danish children as soon as possible is a wise strategic move.
“It is an investment that is made based on what will provide the best integration and the best school, while also proving to tbe the most effective in the long run,” he said.
Local Government Denmark (Kommunernes Landsforening), an interest group for all of Denmark's 98 municipalities, said that around 6,000 refugee children will enter the public school system this year.