A working group suggests establishing a special school department for children of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Iceland. A city committee on the reception and integration of these children proposes the department to be created near the Vogaskóli school in Reykjavík.
The committee suggests children ages 8 to 15 be schooled for 9 months at the department, after which they will resume regular school in their respective districts, RÚV reports.
The Director of Reykjavík City’s Department of Education and Youth, Helgi Grímsson, believes these special schools will be beneficial for the kids.
“It is of the utmost importance that we provide this group with the nourishment and shelter they need,” Helgi says. “If we immediately scatter this group amongst different schools, it’s possible we wouldn’t be able to provide them with the professional help they require.”
The proposal received criticism from Vogaskóli’s Director of Special Education Helga Helgadóttir.
“I find this to be in complete contradiction and opposition to all that we do here,” Helga said. She added that this is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as Iceland’s elementary school laws.
At the compulsory school level, all children in Iceland have the right to attend schools that do not marginalise them to one group or another.
Critics argue that this proposal is discriminatory toward children of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. While some believe that studying among Icelanders is beneficial for children’s adaptation, Helgi says that these children need special assistance to thrive in Icelandic schools.