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Niels Egelund, Danskernes akademi

Private schools are too uniform, says Professor Niels Egelund.

© Danskernes akademi


Private school pupils too uniform

30. maj 2012 13.46 English

A new study criticises private schools for not taking their fair share of responsibility for pupils with Danish as a second language. It finds that pupils in private schools are not sufficiently diverse.

The study, conducted by Ugebrevet A4, analyses figures produced by the Ministry of Children and Education.

One thing or the other
Whilst the state school system tries to distribute the number of children with Danish as a second language across many schools, those attending private schools are much more homogeneous.
In 22 private schools, less than 10 per cent of pupils had international backgrounds, whilst in 20 private schools, more than 40 per cent of pupils had international backgrounds.

Niels Egelund, a professor at Aarhus University, is concerned about this ethnic polarisation.

“All the research in this area tells us that the ideal distribution to have in a class is a broad cross-section of the Danish population,” he told DR News.

Not taking responsibility
The Minister for Children and Education, Christine Antorini, criticises private schools for not taking their share of the responsibility for bilingual children. Niels Egelund agrees with this view:

“We are seeing the beginning of a grading process whereby the state schools are taking on the important social responsibility of integrating pupils of non-Western origin whilst the private schools are skimming off the cream,” he said.

The chair of the Danish association for private schools, Kurt Ernst, dismisses this criticism.

“Above all, one needs to bear in mind that the private schools in question are value-based faith schools. Of course they have a different profile,” he told DR News.

Kurt Ernst does not deny that there are problems, however:

“Of course, the compulsory stage of schooling in the state sector faces some enormous challenges and of course there are problems. I believe we should all be working together to do things much better.”

Economic stick
Niels Egelund maintains that the private schools are not living up to their responsibilities for pupils of non-Western origin and believes that strong measures should be taken:

“If we are to solve this problem, some financial incentives are needed. The private schools should suffer financially if they do not take on pupils with different ethnic origins or, even better, should be rewarded where they do,” he said.

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