Odense: School bans Arabic to stop harassment

Odense: School bans Arabic to stop harassment

In other Arabic news, the Education Ministry allowed Copenhagen to teach Arabic in 7th grade classes, in addition to German and French. (DA)


The students at Seden School in Odense were banned from speaking foreign languages during recess. This happened after a series of episodes where several bi-lingual students harassed and called after other students and teachers in Arabic. The worst consequences of breaking the ban could be having the parents called in for a chummy talk, reports Fyens Stiftstidende.

The decidsion was made by the school managers and teacher group in the school, where 30% of the students are bi-lingual.

Education minister Bertel Haarder (V) doesn't want to get involved in the issue, but he stresses that one should always respect the school management, which tries to keep order in the school.

"And I don't think that the sanction is particulalry serious, or that one can talk of a strong attack. People shouldn't speak nastily in either Danish or Arabic, and the essential thing is to have it stopped, and not which rules there are in the area," he told Danish news agency Ritzau.

At the same time he thinks it's important that the sanction be accepted through the school board. And on the school board not all the parents agree on the ban against foreign languages.

Brit Bremer Christoffersen, a member of the school board, told Fyens Stiftstidende that they're now on the edge of what's allowed. "It's ok to require students to answer in Danish, but that they can't speak their mother tongue internally, I don't think it's fair. I believe in dialog rather than rules."

Several experts called the ban discriminatory and wan that it can create a divide between the bilinguals and the DAnish students.

The regulation is currently valid until January 15, and the ban only holds for joint situations and not when two students go aside and speak togther. In adition to the ban on foreign languages, there's increased oversight of the students and a ban to stand in the school corridors.

Troels Boldt Rømer, head of the National Union of Danish Pupils, says that the ban is childish and a sign of impotence.

"We think that it's a childish ractions, that comes from this school, and it's really annoying that we can't solve these problems in a different way than making up a ban," he says.

He thinks it will increase the divide between ethnic Danish students and the students of another ethnic background.

Troels Boldt Rømer says that many other schools can solve these problems in other ways, when it's the Danish students who call after the teachers. In this way an important part of the student's culture is taken away from them, and that we don't want to accep tthat.

He also doesn't understand why parents won't be called in to a meeting if the students call after teachers in general, insteading of doing so if the students speak Arabic. It signals impotence and shows that the school doesn't have a direction with its integration policy.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad 1, 2 (Danish)

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