Danish. By such prohibitions schools and institutions in other words impair the possibilities of minority children to acquire new knowledge, even if a prohibition is often justified with the opposite. Beyond that parents recount that it has consequences to their children’s sense of identity and self-esteem when the language they speak in their family is criminalized in this way in the school. It makes the children feel embarrassed and to feel contempt for their origin – or in the case of some contempt for the society that debases their family’s linguistic and cultural practice. On this basis some of the parents believe that the current problems of reducing drop-outs from youth educations and some of the problems with criminality among young persons with an immigrant background can be tied to the downgrading of the minority mother-tongue in the school. A mother stated e.g.: “Those 500.000 DKR they have used for mother-tongue instruction [in the municipality, ed.ann.] they are earned, for they have gained some young children, who move on. They are not lost on the ground. When you think of the costs... In 2-3 months you can spend half a million on a young person, for whom things are going badly.”
The Governments efforts to address the problem of low performance of bilingual students compared to their ethnic Danish classmates is presented in para. 152ff. Most initiatives of the Ministry of Education the Task Force mentioned in para 156 of the Government Report to aid local authorities and schools in their efforts to help bilingual students benefit more from their schooling is preoccupied with advanced and obligatory linguistic tests from pre-school age 3 and up, and binding goals measuring student performance in national tests. Assimilation is confused with integration. A recent review of the effect of integration efforts in the municipality of Copenhagen shows that average grades of bilingual students in the public schools compared to monolingual Danish classmates have dropped from 92 percent in 2006 to now 86 percent.42
Well being in schools
A recent study reveals that children of immigrants experience a significant lesser degree of security and well-being in schools and that they have a higher frequency of use of medicine for headaches, sedatives, sleeping medicine and stomach aches compared to ethnic Danes. The study called ‘Health and Well-being among Immigrants, Descendants and Ethnic Danes in the 5th, 7th and 9th grade’43 was published by the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) The report is based on responses from more than 6.000 pupils between 11-15 years from randomly selected schools in Denmark.
According to the study between 18-25 percent of the children with ethnic minority background rarely or never feel safe in the school, while it is less than 1 out of 10 of the ethnically Danish children. 15-19 percent of the immigrant and descendants group rarely or never feel self-confidence, while the figure for ethnic Danish girls and boys is between 8-12%. 13-14 percent of the immigrants, 9-10 percent of descendants in contrast to 5-6 percent of the ethnically Danish students disagree or completely disagree, that class mates are kind and helpful. 1 out of 10 immigrant boys had received medicine for nervous symptoms within the last month, compared to 1 out of 25 among ethnic Danish boys. For medicine against stomach ache the figures were 15 percent of immigrant boys and 8 percent of ethnic Danes. The same pattern was demonstrated for the girls.
42 Politiken, 19 June 2010, 1 Section p. p.
43 Nordahl Jensen H, Holstein BE. Sundhed og trivsel blandt indvandrere, efterkommere og etniske danskere i 5., 7. og 9. klasse. København: Statens Institut for Folkesundhed 2010; 59 pp.