Education is the heart of this paper. And as this university is international, it is worthwhile to study the state of affairs in schools in Europe. One such place is Nyborg Gymnasium in Denmark, where the principal raises money and volunteers help to keep two Somalian refugees in school. As questions of immigration arises and the political rhetoric transforms, this case reflects the growth of xenophobia in the West.
On November the 30th, Nyborg Gymnasium was instructed to cancel teaching for the two siblings aged 16 and 17, Ruwayda Abdisalan Hussein and Roda Abdisalan Hussein. They, along with their parents, are now asked to leave the country as their parents’ request for asylum is denied after three years in Denmark.
Instead of leaving the children alone, principal Henrik Stokholm now raises money to pay for their finished education.
“We have had a mailstorm, where people offer to help by teaching the children. And then we have said that is fine, and we will gladly supply rooms for that at our school.”
After voluntary teaching began for the siblings Abdisalan Hussein, Stokholm has now opened the doors for five Somalian children in total, all in the same situation.
“In this case I think we must think with our hearts. All children and young people deserve an education. That you can always use.”
“We have forgotten to speak what is best for the children.”
»”The council wrote to me and said the girls had two days to leave the school. I thought that was too much to be true, and I acted intuitively”« says Henrik Vestergaard Stokholm. Photo: Louise Herrche Serup
Even though their parents have been denied asylum, the children now apply for it as well, a process that can take many years. In that time, education and work is a blank question for what they can do.
“I don’t think we can treat people this way. It is inhumane to expose people to this chance of randomness, where they don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t take other children out of school and the treat their families this way.”
Not everyone agrees with Stokholm’s policy. The spokesperson for immigration Martin Henriksen of Dansk Folkeparti (Danish Folkparty) says that Stokholm is “playing a politician” and does not “love his country”.
“Fair enough that the principal has his own opinions. He can have that, and he can discuss them. But I think when he starts to plan his own immigration policy on basis of a loophole in the law, that he has a problem justifying his actions. It is not his duty as a principal,” says Henriksen. “He is without feelings for his own country, and he should be ashamed.”
Martin Henriksen, Danish Folkparty. Photo: Uffe Weng
“(Henriksen) showed me an ugly side of politics,” says Stokholm. “The parents fight for their children so they can continue their education. And they’re in agreement that they have to go back to Somalia. They love Somalia. But it’s not a safe country. It’s not safe for their parents, and it’s not safe for the girls.”
“The world is a dangerous place,” says Henriksen.
“That’s too easy to say,” says Stokholm.
“You should be ashamed. You’re a principal. You’re supposed to give young, Danish people a sense of their history and culture, and you don’t care.”
The Danish Minister of Integration Inger Støjberg also says: “We have a principal who makes his own immigration policy. That is not okay. It is not illegal, but he’s putting himself against the policy that is adopted by Parliament.”
The Danish Minister of Education Merete Riisager (Liberal Alliance) says as well that Stokholm has not violated the law.
The situation continues to unfold while Nyborg Gymnasium supplies teaching to the five Somalian children, a case that has now gained national attention. It rises the questions of what is to be done with the immigrants and refugees that have come into Europe in recent years, and to what extent all children, regardless of origin, deserve an education. In any case, whatever happens, it is now in the eyes of some “shameful” to voluntarily educate Somalian children in Denmark.
A tone of discourse that has now moved to the highest level of politics.
A case that is highly divisive, and highly representative of the state of affairs in Denmark.