Norway: immigrants have no ethnic friends

According to a new survey by Norwegian immigrant students

Over 50 percent said they seldom or never had contact with Norwegian youth in their spare time.

Those surveyed said that 82 percent of their friends were of foreign extraction.

A new survey reveals that over half of minority students say they seldom or never spend free time with ethnic Norwegians of their age.

The figures, the first of their type in the area, came as a surprise to Petter Borthen of Hordaland County in southwestern Norway.

"Most serious is that a proportion of those students with very few Norwegian friends have in fact been born and raised in Norway," said Borthen.

Borthen carried out the interviews with Armin Amookhteh, a student with a minority background. Borthen believes the results will not prove to be unique, and that they demonstrate the continuing need for integration.

"And I cannot fathom that Hordaland should be unique in this respect. I believe that one will find the same tendencies across the country," Borthen said.

Osmund Kaldheim, director of IMDi (Directorate of Integration and Diversity), believes the survey sounds a warning to Norwegian schools.

"Contact and integration are closely connected. Some places have managed to deal with this problem, but there is still a long way to go. It is vital that school authorities do not lean back and believe that these problems will disappear on their own. Each individual school must be conscious of the situation and try to find concrete solutions," Kaldheim said.

Viggo Vestel of NOVA (Norwegian Social Research) has experienced a different situation in Oslo, where tight bonds across ethnic communities is often seen. Vestel pointed to a school in the Groruddalen district of Oslo as a good example of success.

"The school many of the youngsters attended had a strong sports program, which appeared to unite them. Everyone can stand out in sport, regardless of background of language skills," Vestel said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

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