Church official supports school segregation

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13:48 CET+01:00
A former Christian Democratic Party member of Oslo’s education committee has said he supports the segregation of “non-whites” from Norwegians in the capital’s schools.

Oslo’s new church warden, Robert Wright, said it was wrong of Oslo’s current education committee to reverse Bjerke school's decision to put immigrants in separate classes. On Thursday, the school announced it would correct “a mistake” it made when it put minorities from local city neighbourhoods into different classes than ethnic Norwegians.

“In my view it was a big mistake by the city schools committee to stop the grouping of pupils by ethnic background,” Wright told newspaper Dagsavisen.

Wright, whose son attends the city's Stovner school, said: "I see how the white pupils are disappearing."

He said many ethnic Norwegian parents were upset by the large numbers of visible minorities at Bjerke and other schools. He wrote a letter of support to Bjerke school staff after the segregation case went public.

He also slammed city education commissioner Torger Ødegaard, who he accused of failing to recognize that many pupils with immigrant backgrounds were uninterested in integrating.

But Ødegaard shot back quickly with a rejection of Wright's support for segregation policies.

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"We need to stop classifying children according to ethnicity," he told newspaper Aftenposten.

"There is a great degree of diversity among pupils who speak minority languages. It's no catastrophe at all to be in the same class as a lot [of children] with immigrant backgrounds. I prefer to see it as enriching," said Ødegaard. 

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