Danish proposal for parental choice, allowing for an extra year of early learning

by Freya Lucas

May 15

As Denmark prepares for a general election, where a new government will be elected to lead the country on 5 June 2019, the issue of the age children begin school has been brought into the spotlight, as has been the case in Australia in the lead up to the Australian Federal election, to take place 18 May 2019.

 

A Danish news source, The Local, has reported The Socialist People’s Party (SF) as proposing that parents should be given the right to delay their child’s entry to school, allowing for an additional year of early learning.

 

The proposal reportedly has the backing of four other Danish political parties – the Social Democrats, Social Liberals, Red Green Alliance, and Alternative, Danish television channel TV2 reported.

 

Should the parties listed above gain majority following the election, they have committed to passing legislation enabling parents to choose whether to give their children an extra year in kindergarten before starting school, according to the report from TV2.

 

Such a decision, the parties said, would be made in consultation with childcare providers. Currently in Denmark, a decision about the age that children start school lies with the relevant Danish municipality.

 

SF party leader Pia Olsen Dyhr told The Local, “Some children benefit from a year extra playing at kindergarten before having to sit and concentrate at school. We want to give them that chance, so they don’t have to suffer the failure of having to repeat their first school year.”

 

Figures from Danish think tank DEA show that children in areas with low staff/child ratios have few children starting school at an older age, whilst those areas experiencing staffing resource challenges have children being sent to school at a younger age, regardless of readiness, according to SF.  

 

Ms Dyhr said “We have created a society in which too much is done according to the needs of adults. Children should have the right to be children and not forced into (starting) school.”

 

SF has proposed an annual tax of 0.5 per cent on those earning more than 5 million kroner (approx. AUD 1,082,270) to pay for increased childcare staff in order to meet minimum ratios in municipalities where resourcing was an issue. As a result, the party said, an optional extra year of early learning would not cost any more than the same child attending school.

 

For the original coverage of this article in full, please see here.

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