UPDATED: The Progress Party (FrP) wants to take legal measures to ensure children from a minority background learn Norwegian.
“We want a proactive public integration agency in Oslo that will coordinate information and make sure they comply with the orders the agency gives them,” says former FrP leader Carl I. Hagen.
He suggests giving the “integration agency” powers to cut benefits payments if minority families do not, arguing the right to impose demands for as long as families receive public money.
“When a child is born, the hospital should send the authority a report in cases where it believes parents do not seem to be able to speak Norwegian. The agency will then follow this up, giving instructions, and ensure that these are followed.”
Mr Hagen believes minority children who can speak fluent Norwegian before they start school will be an aid to integration, claiming 2 out of 3 pupils have problems in Oslo’s schools.
Aftenposten says it has documented that 40 percent avoid applying to minority-based schools because of pupils’ poor language skills.
An earlier report by the paper has highlighted that ethnic Norwegians feel like outsiders in their own country amongst increasing numbers of different ethnic minorities that have not been integrated into society.
Patrick Åserud and his wife are one such example. They decided to follow in the steps of 3,000 ethnic Norwegians who have left Groruddalen in the past two years and move out of Oslo with their kindergarten-aged daughter.
“I will not let my children grow up here. I will not take that chance. It has been hard to be an ethnic Norwegian here. [Our decision] is because of huge language problems, as well as a pressure to adapt to the norms that feel totally alien to us who have a Western way of life and thinking,” he told Aftenposten.
The Åseruds claim it has reached a point where they believe they should be the ones who need to be integrated as a minority in their own country. Figures from Statistics Norway confirm Groruddalen’s Norwegian community has sunk by 20,000 in the last 15 years, while the rest of its population has increased. Just over half are now Norwegian.
“There are kindergartens with parents and children that hardly speak Norwegian, and schools where children are threatened with being beaten for having salami sandwiches. Girls are bullied for being blonde, so they colour their hair dark to fit in. It is not okay to be gay at schools, an atheist, and certainly not a Jew.”
Anti-Semitism and racism have been found to be common in Norwegian schools, with some teachers accused of looking the other way.
Meanwhile, multiculturalism does not seem to be an issue for pupils at Oslo’s Mortensrud School in Søndre Nordstrand. 97 percent have immigrant parents, and one pupil told Aftenposten he learns more because of it
“We don’t think so much about where people are from,” said another, 12-year-old Navin Jegakumaran.