Schools can decide own smartphone rules in Denmark: MPs

Danish schools will be allowed to make their own decisions as to whether classrooms should be mobile-free zones, major political parties say.

Schools can decide own smartphone rules in Denmark: MPs
File photo: Kasper Palsnov/Ritzau Scanpix

The three parties with the largest number of MPs – the Social Democrats, the Danish People’s Party and the Liberal (Venstre) party – all consider the matter to be one for local authorities.

The issue was raised after France this week passed a law banning school children from taking phones into class.

READ ALSO: How France's mobile phone ban in schools will work (or not)

“Some schools in Denmark have also take that step, and I support them. But we shouldn’t be making laws about it in parliament,” Anni Mathiesen, a spokesperson with the Liberal party, said.

“I think it can be dealt with differently from school to school and even from year group to year group,” she added.

Eight out of ten people in Denmark are in favour of banning phones from schools, according to a survey conducted by Megafon on behalf of TV2 and Politiken earlier this year.

The Liberal and Social Democrat parties said they were open to a discussion of a national measure on the matter in future, but not at the present time.

“That survey does make an impression,” Social Democrat spokesperson Anette Lind said.

One school in Copenhagen, which decided to implement a rule against mobiles last year, said it has had the desired effect.

“When you go to the school you can see that children who previously had their heads buried in their phones have been replaced by children that are talking to each other or playing,” Lise Ammitzbøll la Cour, head teacher at Skolen på Gruntvigsvej in Frederiksberg, said.

Administration of schools in Denmark comes under the authority of municipalities, but many decisions are delegated to the managements of the schools themselves.

Danish People’s Party spokesperson for schools Alex Ahrendtsen said his party was against smartphones in classrooms, but that the policy must be implemented locally.

READ ALSO: Denmark calls time on last coin-operated payphones


Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

Parents with Arabic-sounding names get a less friendly response and less help when choosing schools in Sweden, according to a new study from the University of Uppsala.

Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

In one of the largest discrimination experiments ever carried out in the country, 3,430 primary schools were contacted via email by a false parent who wanted to know more about the school. The parent left information about their name and profession.

In the email, the false parent stated that they were interested in placing their child at the school, and questions were asked about the school’s profile, queue length, and how the application process worked. The parent was either low-educated (nursing assistant) or highly educated (dentist). Some parents gave Swedish names and others gave “Arabic-sounding” names.

The report’s author, Jonas Larsson Taghizadeh said that the study had demonstrated “relatively large and statistically significant negative effects” for the fictional Arabic parents. 

“Our results show that responses to emails signed with Arabic names from school principals are less friendly, are less likely to indicate that there are open slots, and are less likely to contain positive information about the school,” he told The Local. 

READ ALSO: Men with foreign names face job discrimination in Sweden: study

The email responses received by the fictional Arabic parents were rated five percent less friendly than those received by the fictional Swedish parents, schools were 3.2 percentage points less likely to tell Arabic parents that there were open slots at the school, and were 3.9 percentage points less likely to include positive information about the municipality or the school. 

There was no statistically significant difference in the response rate and number of questions answered by schools to Swedish or Arabic-sounding parents. 

Taghizadeh said that there was more discrimination against those with a low social-economic status job than against those with an Arabic name, with the worst affected group being those who combined the two. 

“For socioeconomic discrimination, the results are similar, however, here the discrimination effects are somewhat larger,” he told The Local. 

Having a high economic status profession tended to cancel out the negative effects of having an Arabic name. 

“The discrimination effects are substantially important, as they could potentially indirectly influence parents’ school choice decision,” Taghizadeh said.

Investigating socioeconomic discrimination is also important in itself, as discrimination is seldom studied and as explicit discrimination legislation that bans class-based discrimination is rare in Western countries including Sweden, in contrast to laws against ethnic discrimination.”