By: Reuters Staff
Denmark will force children in residential areas containing large numbers of immigrants to be educated about democracy, equality and major Danish holidays such as Christmas, the government said on Monday.
The Nordic country has for decades struggled with how to integrate immigrants, primarily from the Middle East, into its ethnically and religiously homogeneous welfare society.
The new policy, agreed with major opposition parties, will force young children living in “ghettos” – an official term for areas consisting of primarily non-Western immigrants – into 25 hours of public education a week from the age of one.
Children in Denmark must normally receive 10 years of education from the age of six. However, school attendance is not compulsory, meaning parents have a right to choose how to educate their children.
Danish parents living in the designated areas will also be forced to enroll their children in the initiative, although those already receiving daycare will not be required to join.
While the primary focus will be on language skills and learning readiness, the deal also seeks to educate the primarily Muslim children in Danish traditions and Christian holidays including Christmas and Easter.