Leaving ethnic minority students behind : a study of the Danish education system
Dalgaard, Anja Therese
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Denmark provides free and compulsory education for all children, which is in compliance with international human rights law. But statistics reveal that students with an immigrant background perform lower as a group than ethnic Danish students. Therefore, this thesis investigates how the lower results of ethnic minority students in the Danish public primary and lower secondary school may be explained. The aim is to determine whether the Danish state is violating ethnic minority students’ right to education free from discrimination. According to research ethnic minority students perform better in schools in countries with a high adoption of multicultural policies. Therefore, the Danish laws and policies in the field of integration and education are assessed from the perspective of multiculturalism, and discussed with findings from a fieldwork conducted in the Danish school. Based on the analyses of this thesis it can be concluded that the Danish state has a high adoption of policies aimed at assimilating the minority with the majority, rather than recognising and accommodating the cultural and linguistic specificities of ethnic minority groups, due to a perception of Denmark as a monocultural state. Negative preconceptions and stereotypical understandings of ethnic minority groups are constructed on the level of policy and legislation. These are reproduced on the local level where the teachers have adopted the negative preconceptions of members of ethnic minority groups, hereby denying ethnic minority students a genuine opportunity for performing well in school.