Published on 29/04/12 at 00:39:43 GMT by Redaksjonen
Several studies show that approximately 40% of pupils with a mother tongue other than Norwegian perform much like their peers, or better, while 60% underperform.
Leader of the parent committee for elementary schools in Norway (FUG), Christopher Beckham, believes that the key for language minority pupils to achieve the same opportunities as other pupils lies with the parents.
- If we parents are met with respect, we can make a difference for our children. Some schools see parents as a problem, but FUG believes parents need to be looked at as part of the solution, says FUG leader Christopher Beckham.
Beckham held a lecture about the importance of home-school cooperation at a seminar on multilingualism under the auspices of the Directorate of Education, Oslo University College, NAFO, VOX, Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) and FUG. In the spring of 2011 these formed a working group on multilingualism to share information about research and development in the field.
The post of Beckham was an answer to Professor in Education Tor Ola Engen from Hedmark University College on what prevents good language education in Norway today.
- First and foremost, social background means a lot for school performance, for both minority and majority students. But that hardly means anything, said Engen.
Engen pointed out that pedagogy is of great importance and that the teacher and the class means the most.
- In Norway, there are greater differences in performance within schools than between schools. Moreover, residence in Norway and kindergarten experience have a great impact on school performance, said Engen.
Engen believes that minority pupils should participate in regular lessons to the greatest possible extent.
- Customized training is important, but has long been the inclusion principle, the overall educational need. In that little as possible has been desired to distinguish pupils as a separate group. Customized education means that pupils are exposed to the same substance, but on different levels, quantity and frequency. But schools which live by mainstream principle can also lead to that many language minority pupils do not get the special instructions they are entitled to, said Engen at the seminar.
Beckham made it clear that FUG is for education for all, but that this should happen within the given educational framework. He expressed disappointment that the special tuition, language training and bilingual teaching is reserved "those who fail to follow the normal teaching."
- We want all schools and teachers increasingly set the stage for customized education, so that we are less likely to receive special education, said Beckham.
FUG leader Christopher Beckham, photo: Parents' Committee for elementary education (FUG),
He added that it another important factor is to what extent do the parents of language minority pupils, like Norwegian parents, are encouraged to support their children and praise what they have accomplished.
- Parents who have little education, often have little faith in themselves. They must be told that they do not need to master the subjects studied at school, but that they are still important as motivators. It's about empowering the parents and not making them look pitiful, said Beckham.
- There is unfortunately a problem that we do not reach all parents with such information. The school gate is a barrier for many, it can also apply to Norwegian parents. Our challenge is to reach everyone, he said.
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