‘Dagpenge’ agreement good for immigrants, proponents say
The unemployment benefit (dagpenge) agreement that the government revealed on Monday will assist foreigners in Denmark who have been granted asylum and family reunification because they will have an easier time obtaining permanent residence or citizenship, according to Politiken newspaper.
Despite nearly one third of the two billion-kroner dagpenge agreement funds being generated by slashing Danish courses for foreigners, immigrants in the integration programme will gain two additional years to learn Danish after the right to take the programme was extended from three to five years.
Left-wing party Enhedslisten (EL) claims that foreigners will now be better prepared to pass the Danish courses that are a prerequisite for acquiring permanent residence or citizenship.
“We are really pleased that we have succeeded in this. We have battled for years to extend the right to Danish courses to five years because many people have difficulty in gaining the required level of Danish in the three-year limit they have today,” Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, EL’s political spokesperson, told Politiken. “It will likely mean that more people will be able to live up to the demands of permanent residency and citizenship.”
Schmidt-Nielsen is backed up by the education association, Uddannelsesforbundet, which organises the nation’s Danish language courses.
“It’s really positive. We have been working for several years towards getting rid of the three-year limit because it hinders many from taking the Danish courses, which in turn affects their future opportunities of staying in Denmark and taking part in democracy,” Hanne Pontoppidan, the head of Uddannelsesforbundet, told Politiken.
Asylum advocacy organisation Dansk Flygtningehjælp have also come forth to convey its support for the expanded language course right limits.
“When you come as an asylum seeker, people often have a lot of baggage that must be handled while they are taking Danish courses,” Anette Christoffersen, the head of integration at Dansk Flygtningehjælp, told Politiken. “Many suffer from trauma which can often block the learning process, so it is positive that they have some more time to learn Danish and gain their rights.”
While it will cost the state 32 million kroner to extend the Danish courses from three to five years, 584 million kroner will be saved over the next three years by replacing the general Danish education with a one-year introductory course for foreigners who come to Denmark in order to work and study. Currently, they are entitled to three years of courses.
Dansk Flygtningehjælp and Uddannelsesforbundet have strongly criticised the second aspect of the government's plan.
“We do think that it is shocking that they will forsake one vulnerable group to save another,” Hanne Pontoppidan said.
Aside from the 584 million kroner saved by restructuring the Danish language education courses for foreigners, another 270 million kroner will be found by cutting separate cultural education courses for foreigners and folding that into the language education.