Swedish-only at Landskrona School

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sun Jan 21 14:20:56 UTC 2007

via the edling-list

'Swedish only' at Landskrona school
Published: 20th January 2007 12:05 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/6152/

The principal of Landskrona's Gustav Adolf School is to introduce a new
policy prohibiting the use of foreign languages on school premises. Almost
half of the children at the school come from an immigrant background. The
rules are to be tightened following the expulsion of 6 pupils and the
suspension of 22 others from the school in the southern Swedish town. When
leftover fireworks from the recent new year's celebrations exploded inside
the school on Thursday, health and safety representative Leif Paulsson
ordered the school's immediate closure.

The incident followed reports of boys urinating in girls' shoes, as well
as repeated bullying and beatings on school premises. The only exception
to the new rule is the teaching of foreign languages.  Otherwise only
Swedish will be tolerated. "This means that pupils may speak only Swedish
in the classroom and in the corridors. This applies even when they are
speaking to each other. "We are doing this so that others will not be able
to think that they are saying anything insulting," principal Patrik
Helgesson told newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad. The Swedish Children's
Ombudsman, Lena Nyberg, is deeply critical of the measures.

"As an adult one must try to reach agreement with the children at a school
before introducing this type of regulation. Disciplinary rules always work
best where there is consensus," Nyberg told Helsingborgs Dagblad. "The
situation in Landskrona seems to be one of abdication, whereby staff have
long since handed over power. Now they are trying to take the power back
by settinmg the rules unilaterally. "There is a large dose of
discrimination against children who speak a different native language. The
first thing that strikes me is that there are many newly arrived children
of refugees in Landskrona who have not yet had the time to learn Swedish.
Are they supposed to avoid saying anything at all during the school day?"
she added.

Parents will be notified if a pupil revert to speaking his or her first
languages. If the pupil continues doing so despite initial warnings the
parents will be brought to the school for further discussion. If this does
not solve the problem all parties involved will be called to a conference
to discuss a potential solution. Gustav Adolf School is the first to
impose the sort of language ban suggested recently by two Liberal Party
politicians in the nearby city of Malm. "Some pupils at Gustaf Adolf
School have been threatened and harassed in the native languages of other
pupils, which is why the rules have been tightened," said administrative
manager Ylva Runnstrm.

"Only Swedish may be spoken on school grounds. There are already rules
prohibiting harassment and this is a continuation of those. "I am going to
raise the issue of whether this should also be the case in other schools.
It is important that we have the same levels of tolerance in all our
schools," she added. Ingegrd Milborn, a legal expert at the Swedish
National Agency for Education, has not heard of similar measures at any
other school and is uncertain as to the legality of the new regulation.
"The question is whether this can viewed as insulting towards the
children. Forbidding children from speaking their native language is a
sensitive matter. The situation is complicated for the school," she told
Helsingborgs Dagblad.



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