Separating students by ethnicity
Bjerke high school in Oslo has divided pupils into classes according to their ethnic background. “Apartheid,” says law professor Henning Jakhelln.
The school has placed the ethnic Norwegian students in two classes to prevent them from switching schools.
“The decision to keep the ethnic Norwegian students more united, was a difficult but deliberate choice,” said school department head Hanna Norum Eliassen of Bjerke high school to NRK.
The reason is, according to Eliassen, the proportion of ethnic Norwegian students has decreased over time and the proportion is now around 30 percent.
“Last school year, the first three classes had two classes with eight ethnic Norwegian students and a class of nine,” she says.
“Both last year and the year before, the ethnic Norwegian students left for other schools. Some stated that they felt lonely as white Norwegians. The consequence was that the classes were filled with even more minority students. So we lost some of the diversity that we, the students, and minority parents want,” said Eliassen.
This school year the school chose to do it another way.
“We ultimately decided to make a difficult decision and place the 14 ethnic Norwegian students in each of the two classes, and none in the third. It has led to fewer Norwegian students leaving. If this works, it means that we get the diversity we want. I think it’s sad if we are to have brown and white schools. There is no benefit,” said Eliassen.
Dagsavisen has talked to several students and minority parents who feel discriminated against. They are supported by law professor Henning Jakhelln, who calls the practice shocking.
“This is apartheid. This is segregation and not integration in the Norwegian public school. I can understand many strange things, but this is completely crosses the border,” said the professor of human rights and education and school rights.
“From the school’s standpoint, this is a scheme designed to keep the white students, but it is not the school’s purpose. Schools should provide education and training on equal terms. It is not possible to add ethnic criteria as a basis for the class of students to go in. If this is not a direct violation of the Education Act, then it breaks more general laws, such as the Discrimination Act and Racial Discrimination Convention,” says Henning Jakhelln to Dagsavisen.
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