Bjerke School gets it from both sides / News / The Foreigner

Bjerke School gets it from both sides. The ethnic Bjerke Upper Secondary School row has become further polarized with strong support and accusations. Officials’ decision to divide classes according to ethnic and non-ethnic Norwegian origins created a storm of protest. Rector Gro Flaten was left beating the retreat, reversing the move after sharp criticism by Oslo City Council’s Torger Ødegaard and the Minister of Education, Kristin Halvorsen. Mr Ødegaard’s predecessor, Robert Wright, says to Dagsavisen today, “I think Mr Ødegaard made a major mistake by stopping division of pupils according to ethnic background.  My second lot of children go to Stovner Upper Secondary School (videregående) and I see how the white pupils are disappearing.”

bjerkevideregaaendeskole, ethnicclassdivisions, osloimmigrantintegration



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Bjerke School gets it from both sides

Published on Friday, 25th November, 2011 at 14:13 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 25th November 2011 at 19:38.

The ethnic Bjerke Upper Secondary School row has become further polarized with strong support and accusations.

100% Norway
100% Norway
Photo: Jess Chandler/The Foreigner


“No understanding”

Officials’ decision to divide classes according to ethnic and non-ethnic Norwegian origins created a storm of protest. Rector Gro Flaten was left beating the retreat, reversing the move after sharp criticism by Oslo City Council’s Torger Ødegaard and the Minister of Education, Kristin Halvorsen.

Mr Ødegaard’s predecessor, Robert Wright, says to Dagsavisen today, “I think Mr Ødegaard made a major mistake by stopping division of pupils according to ethnic background.  My second lot of children go to Stovner Upper Secondary School (videregående) and I see how the white pupils are disappearing.”

“This results in even more students moving and changing schools. Some of us parents in Stovner work as hard as we can to create networks between the Norwegian students. This isn’t because we are against integration, but due to the fact that we see large groups of people from foreign cultures don’t want to be integrated themselves,” alleges Mr Wright, saying he has sent Ms Flaten an email expressing support for her original practise.

Stovner and Bjerke schools are in Groruddalen. 17,000 ethnic Norwegians, not just school pupils, have moved from the area since 1997 in search of Whiter areas, a phenomenon known as “White Flight”.

Officials from the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) are working hard to reverse the trend amongst calls from Far Right-Wing politicians to introduce enforced Norwegian language tuition for foreigners.

Accusing Torger Ødegaard of “a complete lack of understanding”, Robert Wright alleges his move yesterday “ensures there will be even more “white” and “brown” schools in Oslo. Bjerke should be allowed to reap experience from what it has done.”

“It’s not over yet”

120 student council representatives from Oslo’s schools gathered yesterday for a meeting about current issues. Discussions soon turned to questions of dividing classes and discrimination. Students at Bjerke and other Upper Secondary schools were appalled by what happened.

Labour’s (Ap) Deputy Chairman on Oslo City Council’s Culture and Education Committee, Andreas Halse was at the forum. He expressed his support for Mr Ødegaard.

“Do you think schools having 70-80 percent of pupils from a minority is a background?” he asked those assembled. “Yes, it creates more xenophobia. Nobody likes to feel they are in another country when they come to school on the other side of Groruddalen,” answered two people.

Continuing by calling Bjerke’s move “unacceptable”, Mr Halse said, “It’s good Mr Ødegaard put his foot down. The discussion is definitely far from over.”

A contact group between school staff, the board, and pupils was formed to find positive solutions and promote dialogue, but he believes solving Bjerke’s problems is only part of the solution, and efforts should not stop there.

According to him, talking about the problem of White, ethnic Norwegian students moving because of cultural and language differences is one thing; action is another.

Suggesting three solutions, Mr Halse argued, “Firstly, there should be no doubt that the primary language spoken in Oslo’s schools is Norwegian. Then, they need resources if they are to tackle this issue.”

A benefit

“Furthermore, good social environments connected to the schools also need building up. I believe much of why people decide to move is because they lose a connection to the majority society, not because of concerns about academic results,” concluded Mr Halse.

Whilst some foreigners have ‘given up’ on Norway completely because of certain Norwegian attitudes, as well as wanting decreased immigration, one student at Bjølsen Upper Secondary School says he sees immigrant-based families as an advantage.

“I often end up discussing things with classmates with a different ethnic origin to mine, but I learn a lot from these conversations. I can’t see how segregation contributes to increased integration. We learn a great deal about other ways of life by being sociable.”



Published on Friday, 25th November, 2011 at 14:13 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 25th November 2011 at 19:38.

This post has the following tags: bjerkevideregaaendeskole, ethnicclassdivisions, osloimmigrantintegration.





  
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