Central Population Register does not allow identification on of the Roma group in Denmark. It is further stated that Roma who took up residence in Denmark prior to 1960s have been complete integrated (assimilated?) and do not emerge as an identifiable group.
The same general information was noted by Mr. Gil-Robles as Commissioner for Human Rights on his visit to Denmark 13th-16th Apr. 2004,15 who added, however, that “Many of the indigenous Roma have, however, lost their mother tongue, but I was informed that there has been a renewed eagerness to maintain and rejuvenate the Roma culture, language and traditions.
Mr. Gil-Robles stated that he heard a number of reports of discrimination against Roma regarding access to employment, housing and education, but expressed particular concern about difficulties faced by Roma children in accessing education. He specifically referred to the situation in Elsinore Municipality, “where there are reportedly special Roma classes, which are defined in the municipality’s report as classes for ‘Roma pupils who cannot be in a normal class or in a special class’.” The “so-called Romi classes, which, whilst not officially described as classes for special education, offer education that corresponds to that of classes for special education rather than regular classes. The pupils in the classes are not of the same age, but from all class levels in the public school system. Reportedly, practically none of the Roma children ever make it back to normal classes again. No proper pedagogical counselling and assessment takes place prior to a placement of a child to a Romi class. Instead, the decision is taken on the basis of the teacher alone.”
An individual complaint was considered on the matter by the former Complaints Committee for Ethnic Equal Treatment on 5 Dec. 2005, which found that a pupil had been subjected to direct discrimination on ground of ethnic origin by being placed in a class (called ‘F-class’) solely composed of pupils of Roma background.
The Roma classes were subsequently abolished, which is the background for the CERD satisfaction in para 8 of the Concluding observations above. However, the problem appears not to have gone away.
A recent evaluation report from the Pedagogical Development Centre in the Municipality of Elsinore called for competence in Danish as a second language and cultural difference in the visitation of pupils to the special classes. According to the report lack of knowledge caused far to many bilingual students to be wrongfully placed in special classes and they never get away from them again. A school master wrote a summary of the problem:
“For the moment there is a tendency, that relatively many bilingual pupils are placed in the special classes. This is particularly the case for Romi children. They are often referred to the special classes later in their schooling than Danish children. When the so-called f-classes (absenteeism classes with exclusive Rome children) were abolished, a placement had to be found for these students. Their substantive/linguistic skills were/are at a low level. Many of them have been tested to special class, but their problem is quite different (linguistically, socially, culturally). The preconditions of the special classes – which are children with general learning disabilities – are changed in a way, so that pupils with a bilingual problem takes up relatively much space. By way of example up towards half of the pupils in a special class may have Romi background. At the same time there is no certainty that there are teachers in the special classes, who have qualifications for teaching bilingual students,
15 CommDH (2004)12, original version, para. 35ff, p.13f.