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Efforts and Models of Education for Parents: the Danish Approach

Author(s): Rosendal Jensen, Niels | Brix, Dorthe

Journal: Social Work and Society
ISSN 1613-8953

Volume: 7;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2009;
Original page

The report examines the relationship between day care institutions, schools and so called “parents unfamiliar to education” as well as the relationship between the institutions. With in Danish public and professional discourse concepts like parents unfamiliar to education are usually referring to environments, parents or families with either no or just very restricted experience of education except for the basic school (folkeskole). The “grand old man” of Danish educational research, Prof. Em. Erik Jørgen Hansen, defines the concept as follows: Parents who are distant from or not familiar with education, are parents without tradition of education and by that fact they are not able to contribute constructively in order to back up their own children during their education. Many teachers and pedagogues are not used to that term; they rather prefer concepts like “socially exposed” or “socially disadvantaged” parents or social classes or strata. The report does not only focus on parents who are not capable to support the school achievements of their children, since a low level of education is usually connected with social disadvantage. Such parents are often not capable of understanding and meeting the demands from side of the school when sending their children to school. They lack the competencies or the necessary competence of action. For the moment being much attention is done from side of the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs (recently renamed Ministry of Welfare) in order to create equal possibilities for all children. Many kinds of expertise (directions, counsels, researchers, etc.) have been more than eager to promote recommendations aiming at achieving the ambitious goal: 2015 95% of all young people should complement a full education (classes 10.-12.). Research results are pointing out the importance of increased participation of parents. In other word the agenda is set for ‘parents’ education’. It seems necessary to underline that Danish welfare policy has been changing rather radical. The classic model was an understanding of welfare as social assurance and/or as social distribution – based on social solidarity. The modern model looks like welfare as social service and/or social investment. This means that citizens are changing role – from user and/or citizen to consumer and/or investor. The Danish state is in correspondence with decisions taken by the government investing in a national future shaped by global competition. The new models of welfare – “service” and “investment” – imply severe changes in hitherto known concepts of family life, relationship between parents and children etc. As an example the investment model points at a new implementation of the relationship between social rights and the rights of freedom. The service model has demonstrated that weakness that the access to qualified services in the field of health or education is becoming more and more dependent of the private purchasing power. The weakness of the investment model is that it represents a sort of “The Winner takes it all” – since a political majority is enabled to make agendas in societal fields former protected by the tripartite power and the rights of freedom of the citizens. The outcome of the Danish development seems to be an establishment of a political governed public service industry which on one side are capable of competing on market conditions and on the other are able being governed by contracts. This represents a new form of close linking of politics, economy and professional work. Attempts of controlling education, pedagogy and thereby the population are not a recent invention. In European history we could easily point at several such experiments. The real news is the linking between political priorities and exercise of public activities by economic incentives. By defining visible goals for the public servants, by introducing measurement of achievements and effects, and by implementing a new wage policy depending on achievements and/or effects a new system of accountability is manufactured. The consequences are already perceptible. The government decides to do some special interventions concerning parents, children or youngsters, the public servants on municipality level are instructed to carry out their services by following a manual, and the parents are no longer protected by privacy. Protection of privacy and minority is no longer a valuable argumentation to prevent further interventions in people’s life (health, food, school, etc.). The citizens are becoming objects of investment, also implying that people are investing in their own health, education, and family. This means that investments in changes of life style and development of competences go hand in hand. The below mentioned programmes are conditioned by this shift.

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