A toolkit for local authorities
Current Affairs Committee
Tel : +33 3 88 41 21 10
Kindergartens tend to be characterised by great ethnic mixing but there are signs that primary and secondary schools are gradually becoming more ethnically-polarised as more affluent parents opt out of some schools and into other. This is being countered by limiting the right to choice and also by heavily investing in those schools that are threatened by ‘white flight’.
For example, the Gamlebyen Skole is a classic inner city primary school with a wide range of languages and a combination of complex social and cultural issues. The school’s physical environment is shaped to involve references of migrant children’s culture of origin such as the climbing wall made up of letters of all world alphabets, the original carved wood pillar of a destroyed Mosque in Pakistan, kilims and other objects which create a warm, homely atmosphere. The curriculum in the school involves cultural and intercultural learning. There is a benchmarking tool allowing teachers to check whether they stand in diversity matters such as engaging parents from different origins. The school has edited a book from a joint project from Ankara and is now running a film project with schools from Denmark and Turkey.
Oslo University also has its own diversity programmes. One of them involves elective subjects about diversity in Norway and about higher education in 5 secondary schools, with master students acting as mentors. This has lead over the 4 years to 30% increase of university admissions from these schools, while the Oslo school average was 7% increase. A mentoring scheme for mature students from minority backgrounds helps to lower dropout. Now there are about 11 % minority students and the target is 15% in the next two years. Similar projects in other universities also worked well. Encouragingly, Oslo University has turned the project into a permanent diversity office.