Mail Online: Apartheid row at Oslo school as teachers segregate ethnic students so white children don’t feel ‘in a minority’

by , under Enrique

Comment: Migrant Tales has published a few blog entries on calls by Finnish teachers to place caps on students with immigrant backgrounds. This actually happened at a school in the Norwegian capital of Oslo and sparked, rightfully, an outcry. 

The reason? “Teachers at the school claim the segregation in one of the three general studies classes was a result of many white Norwegians changing schools after feeling they were in ‘the minority’ in classes,” reports the Mail Online. 

Why is segregating or placing caps wrong at schools? For one, it’s not the teachers who decide who their pupils will be but the school board. Moreover, aren’t the children “Norwegian” if they have lived in the country most of their lives? How do you define “a student with immigrant background?”

One of the most valuable matters that white and students with culturally diverse backgrounds could learn is from themselves.  

But there are different opinions: “…Robert Wright, a Christian Democrat politician and former head of the city’s schools board said authorities had been wrong to block the move claiming other Oslo schools follow Bjerke’s example to stop a situation of ‘white flight.'”

Torge Ødegaard, Oslo education minister, said segregation of classes by ethnicity was unacceptable.

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By Lucy Buckland

A Norwegian school segregated ethnic minority classmates because white children were feeling ‘in the minority.’  The move, at Bjerke Upper Secondary School in Oslo, divided students and parents, sparking an protests across the city.

Read whole story.

Thank you @getgln for the heads up!

  1. Yossie

    Well the news said the whole thing was caused by white kids dropping out, essentially coming out as getgln said, de facto housing segregation. To make a difference, one should think why white kids are dropping out?

  2. Seppo

    White flight is a serious problem that has now arrived to Finland. I’m willing to accept almost all measures that help us avoid ethno-cultural segregation and fragmentation of the society. Sometimes you need positive discrimination to get people with immigrant backgrounds where they belong, sometimes you need other measures to keep the natives there where they are.

  3. Laputis

    I generally don´t suport segregation, but in some cases it is better than anything else. I have experienced clashes of school pupils of different backgrounds in my school, where I studied few years. Pupils divided themselves into “clans” according to their ancestry and were intolerable each to other. Physical fights were frequent. In this situation I might say that segregation would have been better. Children are mirroring society. If adults don´t tolerate “other”, why would children do otherwise? The younger children also often copy older pupils. Studying of pupils of different background in same place doesn´t guarantee acceptance of each other. It can be as well very much other way round. And conflicts in school between different groups can be more pronounced than in general society.

    The solution of problem is not pushing everybody to study in same place. The solution is work with the genral society itself. Teaching more tolerance and understanding might help. But you have to be careful with not too hard pressing, otherwise it can create counter-reaction (especially such fragile thing as identity). And, if native people will feel threatened by too fast changes, then no teaching will help IMO.

  4. Mark

    Well said, Laputis. 🙂 The problems in schools are the problems of societies magnified because there are not the adult/mature constraints on the behaviours, although the attitudes remain the same as found among adults.

    In this case, I would again say this is not so much a problem of nationality per se, but rather an intersection of clan/ethnic identities and masculinities. The problems for boys (and girls) is evident if you visit any toy shop!

    Is it the animal in us? I don’t think so – rather a historical need to foster warriors. Given Finland’s insistance on conscription, I cannot see this changing any time soon.

  5. Foreigner

    I quite agree with what has been said above; that students simply mirror the society, and that if adults are not tolerant of each other,then we can’t expect any different from the children. I would even venture to say that some adults here in Finland inculcate hate in the minds of their innocent children.To further illustrate my point, I will draw reference to an incident I witnessed a few weeks ago: there was a black family on the train with a toddler. When the train made a stop, a Finnish woman entered the train with a “pure” Finnish child. Being a child, the Finnish child excitedly pulled her mom to sit by the black child. She obviously wanted to play. Her mother was visibly upset, and though I did not fully understand what she told the child, the word “nekru” was used! She then directed her child to a seat far away from the black family!

    I was so shocked, it took me a while to really understand what had happened. The black family too was visibly taken aback! How could this woman feel it ok to use such words to describe others to her young child? What hope do we have for race relations in Finland, if adults are spreading their venomous views to their children?

    I simply can’t understand such hatred!

  6. andi

    Children naturally have no sense of how one person is different from another. I have seen young kids meeting up in an airport who share nothing in common other than that they are travelling by plane just get together and work out a way of communicating and playing together despite no mutual language and a wide range of skin colours. Perhaps most importantly, they did this on their own without any adult input. It is only by copying the bigotry and suspicion of adults that children learn that people are different. Unfortunately, given the predominance of christian teachings in the education system this automatically sets other kids aside as being different when they are removed from the religion lessons. I have seen it happen with both of my own kids, even into secondary school other kids look at them and ask ‘what makes you so special that you go somewhere else while we have religion classes?’. Luckily my kids are well adjusted and just answer that they are not special but rather are more sensible as they have both chosen not to follow any religion.

    I personally went to school in the UK where our sole non white representative was a Sikh guy. The school made the decision when he started that they were going to remove all traces of christian orientated events from the school, instead concentrating instead on teaching harmony and understanding. They also made a point of getting representatives of as many religious groups as possible to visit the school and start discussion groups. I have tried to take that lesson forward with me and tried to remember what I learnt then and teach it to my kids. Unfortunately the schools here did not understand it when I tried to explain the system to them and so my kids are segregated due to their religious differences.
    I really hope the system changes for the many kids who are now getting towards school age here who are non christian so they don’t have to go through the same segregated system as mine do, although I have my doubts that this will happen.

  7. Yossie

    “I personally went to school in the UK where our sole non white representative was a Sikh guy. The school made the decision when he started that they were going to remove all traces of christian orientated events from the school, instead concentrating instead on teaching harmony and understanding. They also made a point of getting representatives of as many religious groups as possible to visit the school and start discussion groups. I have tried to take that lesson forward with me and tried to remember what I learnt then and teach it to my kids. Unfortunately the schools here did not understand it when I tried to explain the system to them and so my kids are segregated due to their religious differences.”

    This is as wrong as it could get. Really? One guy in sense makes it so that rest need to adapt? How about the Sikh guy adapting to the local culture? There is no need to believe in the christian stuff (I dont either), but to remove all the traditions because of one immigrant is the textbook example how things should not go. Local population has their right to keep their traditions!

  8. Mark

    Yossie

    I do agree here. This gives multiculturalism a bad name. This kind of ‘identity politics’ is a response to fear. The Sikhs I knew in London that were more than capable of appreciating elements of Christian culture. It’s simply unnecessary to ‘remove’ it all. It’s all about making a little bit of space for everyone at the table of culture, not about kicking anyone off it. And let’s face it, we have space for most things that come under the umbrella of ‘culture’ and ‘religion’. Most things. So lets not close the door for the sake of those that imagine the table of culture is theirs and theirs alone.

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