What's up, Europe? Gender, media and European integration. The story of a a young Dane exploring the continent.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Unpopular headgear

New survey: Almost half of the population, 46 percent, thinks that Muslim headscarves should be forbidden in Danish schools.

This was an opening for The Danish People's Party to restate their old suggestion on prohibiting religious headgear. Their argument is headscarves discriminates young girls and with a ban this would be prevented.

So where does that leave us? Should it be forbidden for fat girls to wear short, tight shirts? Should pale people be restricted in their use of bright-coloured clothes?

On the radio this morning you could hear the average Dane sharing his thoughts on this topic. One lady explained that a lot of headgear should be prohibited. Not just headscarves but also (the way I understood it) caps, religious as non-religious, should be forbidden in school. According to her such clothing didn't belong in school.

This is an interesting statement because it questions the grounds for restrictions on religious headgear. Does 46 percent of the population think a ban will result in less discrimination? Or is it that we don't want visible "unconventional stuff" in the Danish public? Especially not, when it stems from values that we see as different from our own?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pull the Strings

After spending the day with slightly depressing readings on the "transatlantic crisis", neoconservatism and the Bush-administration this is the comic relief.

You can drag him all you want. Just use the cursor.

A bit like Gandhi

What's your political conviction? Are you closest to Bush, Mandela, Mugabe, Dalai Lama or Berlusconi? Find out at www.politicalcompass.org.

The test places you in a diagram with a vertical social scale and a horizontal economic scale. For those interested my scores are:

Economic Left/Right: -5.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.97

Here we go...

This morning something happened that most likely will change the lives of 100.000 Danish people. The Confederation of Danish Industries (DI) published a discussion paper on the Danish education system. Especially one suggestion was popular in the media: Partly converterting the study grant to a loan that can be cancelled if you do your degree in five years. This is to create an "economical motivation" for people to complete their studies faster.

This suggestion will have profound consequences for most Danish students - maybe not right now, but in the very near future. A reform of the study grant is undoubtly on the government's agenda and DI - as one of Denmark's most influential interest groups - of course will have a saying in the reform's concrete elaboration.

The proposals from DI:

DI foreslår

— At man med inspiration i det hollandske system reformerer SU-systemet, så stipendiet gøres afhængigt af studiefremdrift og alderfor studiestart.
— At man eksempelvis nedsætter SU’en i den sidste del af den normerede studietid og erstatter det med et lån, som eftergives, hvis man færdiggør sin uddannelse på normeret tid.
— At man gradvist aftrapper SU-klippene afhængigt af ventetid efter endt ungdomsuddannelse. Hvis man for eksempel starter sin uddannelse ét år efter endt ungdomsuddannelse, så har man SU-klip til den normerede uddannelsestid + 1 år, hvis man starter 2 år efter, har man SU-klip til den normerede uddannelsestid osv.
— At muligheden for at strække SU’en over syv eller otte år fjernes ved at afskaffe muligheden for at opspare frameldte SU-klip.

Read the entire paper at DI's homepage

I'm always amazed by the ways in which globalization works. A few years ago education politics never made it to the front page as today's story. But now the study grant and the motivation and working morale of students are high politics due to the "global knowledge race" where well-educated people are crucial to competitiveness. Today me and my 99.999 fellow students concern big corporations and political parties.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Identity Crisis # 2

A year ago I had my first identity crisis. It's a well-known fact that you're suppose to have a crisis when you turn 25. Well, for some obscure reason I started believing that I was 25 and -not surprisingly - a crisis came along. A week before my birthday this year I found out I was actually only 24 and just about to turn 25. Woops. Even though I felt a bit silly I was happy that the infamous crisis at 25 was over and dealt with.

Or so I thought.

Some days ago I was asked to "consider your primary affiliation in terms of identity and community". Piece of cake, I thought to myself, of course I'm a world-citizen-cosmopolitian-very-liberal-embrace-all-cultures-and-not-determined-by-my-own-cultural-background-kind-of-person! But then I gave it some thought.

Actually I'm not. I'm as Danish as you get. I have all the rights and privilegies of Danish people and my values are undoubtly Danish which has both a downside and an upside. As a Dane I'm a big fan of democracy and solidarity but at the same time somewhat intolerant to those not sharing these values. As a Danish political science scholar said it: "We are so tolerant that we are intolerant".

That's me. And I'll keep this self-analysis in mind before again claiming to be a world-citizen-cosmopolitian-very-liberal-embrace-all-cultures-and-not-determined-by-my-own-cultural-background-kind-of-person.