Bilingual students in Copenhagen continue to struggle

Boys who speak two languages are performing particularly poorly

The difference in grade point averages between ethnic Danish and bilingual children in the city’s public schools continues to rise, according to the latest ‘integration barometer’ report from the City Council.

According to the report, ethnic Danish children scored an average of 6.41 in their graduation exams last year, which was considerably higher than the 4.96 scored by their bilingual school mates and signifies the largest scholastic gap between the two groups in years.

While the ethnic Danes have generally improved since 2010, Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S), a spokesperson for integration issues at the City Council, called what has happened to their bilingual peers: “catastrophic”.

“To see that the difference is so great and that the development is headed in the wrong direction is clearly unsatisfactory,” Rasmussen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “And unfortunately it confirms the tendency we are seeing of the creation of a new ethnic lower-class.”

READ MORE: New targets for helping marginalised groups

Part of integration initiative
It is particularly the bilingual boys who are experiencing problems. Their exam averages were down at 4.66 last year, while the bilingual girls managed to score 5.28 on average.

The number of youths with a foreign background who have completed or are in the process of taking a youth education course, ungdomsuddannelse, also fell in 2011 and 2012 – a trajectory that is expected to have continued in 2013.

The ‘integration barometer’ is an eight-goal initiative by the City Council that encompasses 2011-2014 and is designed to, among other things, improve public schools, increase employment, reduce discrimination and make Copenhagen a safer city.

According to the most recent ‘integration barometer’, the public school arena is the only area showing a clearly negative development.