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Danish party wants extra playtime year for kids in daycare

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Danish party wants extra playtime year for kids in daycare
File photo: Johan Gadegaard / Midtjyske Medier / Ritzau Scanpix
16:37 CEST+02:00
Parents should be given the right to delay their children's first day in school with an extra year in daycare, a Danish left-centre party has proposed.

The Socialist People's Party (SF) proposal has been given the support of four other parties – the Social Democrats, Social Liberals, Red Green Alliance and Alternative, TV2 reports.

READ ALSO: The 2019 Danish general election: What you should know about the parties on the left

If the parties have the parliamentary majority following the election, they will pass legislation enabling parents to choose whether to give their children an extra year at kindergarten before starting school, according to the report.

Such a decision will be made in consultation with childcare professionals and specialists. Under current rules, the decision lies solely with the relevant municipality.

“Some children benefit from a year extra playing at kindergarten before having to sit and concentrate at school. We want to give them that chance, so they don't have to suffer the failure of having to repeat their first school year,” SF leader Pia Olsen Dyhr told Ritzau.

Figures from thinktank DEA show that children in areas with low staff-child ratios (normeringer in Danish) at childcare institutions also have relatively few children starting school late.

In contrast, municipalities with higher ratios also tend to have a larger number of children delaying their first day at school.

That is evidence that daycare institutions send children to school earlier to save resources, according to SF.

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“We have created a society in which too much is done according to the needs of adults. Children should have the right to be children and not forced into (starting) school,” Olsen Dyhr said.

Alex Ahrendtsen, schools spokesperson with the Danish People's Party, said he was sceptical about the SF assessment.

“SF must document that this is the case [daycare institutions send children to school earlier to save money, ed.]. I am confident that schools, childcare professionals and managers are responsible and, in consultation with parents, are able to assess whether a child should start (school) later,” Ahrendtsen told TV2.

Prior to the election being called, SF said it would demand minimum ratios at childcare institutions in order to lend its support to a Social Democrat government.

An annual tax of 0.5 percent on fortunes of more than five million kroner would pay for increased childcare staff, according to the party.

An optional extra year in childcare would not cost any more than the same child attending school, the party says.

But a long-term benefit to the economy could be gained by more children having productive school years and completing educational programmes, SF argues. The exact impact has not been calculated by the party and would not be felt for 10-15 years, it said.

READ ALSO: More on the 2019 general election 

 
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