More than half of Helsinki region parents are in favour of quotas for immigrant pupils in classes
Parents would restrict the proportion of immigrant pupils in schools
More than half of the parents of school-age children in the Greater Helsinki area would be willing to restrict the proportion of pupils with immigrant background in schools.
The information is based on a survey commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by the research company TNS Gallup in the Greater Helsinki area in September, involving interviews with 528 parents of school-age children (aged 7 to 16).
The parents were asked whether schools should restrict the number of pupils of immigrant origin in classes. The interviewees were also asked for their stand on the statement that ”it will be more difficult for the children of immigrant origin to learn Finnish, if the number of pupils with a mother tongue other than Finnish is too large”.
The margin of error in the study is around 4.5 percentage points.
According to the survey, a total of 57 per cent of all respondents woud like to have special quotas for the number of pupils of immigrant origin. Only 28 per cent of the respondents opposed such quotas. Some 14 per cent of people could or would not venture an opinion.
In Espoo and Kauniainen, 64 per cent of respondents would restrict the number of pupils of foreign origin in classes.
In Helsinki, the number of respondents in favour of such quotas is 52 per cent.
Almost half of the respondents also believe that it would be more difficult for immigrant children to learn Finnish if there are too many pupils in schools with a mother tongue other than Finnish.
The respondents’ level of education apparently has some effect on their replies. Those respondents who have no other education than comprehensive school and parents with vocational education were most in favour of immigration quotas.
At the same time, the gender or age of respondents did not seem to make any material difference, according to the study.
Marjo Kyllönen, head of education at the Helsinki Education Department, points out that such immigrant quotas would violate the Finnish law that makes it the responsibility of local authorities to arrange mandatory education for children who reside in the municipality.
In other words, all pupils are entitled to attend their nearest school.
Some of the people interviewed by Helsingin Sanomat in Helsinki’s Ruoholahti district on Wednesday sympathised with the idea of quotas.
”In a dream situation, all classes would have an appropriate number of all kinds of children”, said Anna-Kaarina Huttunen, one of the interviewees in Ruoholahti.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helsinki parents at pains to avoid schools with high proportion of immigrants (3.5.2011)
Helsinki education authorities: call to limit proportion of immigrant pupils in schools “unrealistic” (30.11.2009)
Helsinki considers whether mandatory education applies to children of foreign Roma (3.10.2011)
City of Helsinki Education Department