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Cash threat to folk alternative

DENMARK. Danish education minister Ole Vig Jensen will appoint a committee to look into the future of the country's 95 folk high schools, which are in financial crisis.

Based on the "school for life" philosophy evolved in the early 1830s by poet-priest NFS Grundtvig, one of the most important figures in Danish cultural history, the folk high school movement has traditionally been an autonomous alternative to the educational establishment.

But student numbers have fallen by 20 per cent over three years; enrolment is 15 per cent down. Ten folk high schools have closed in the same period and another 25 will close if they cannot attract more students or higher state support.

There is general support to help the schools, but opinion is divided on how. The Social Liberals will give the students loans and grants, provided the schools join the educational system and accept pupils with special needs. Other parties say this would bring external influence on the schools' courses and reduce their freedom, but Ole Vig Jensen has promised to ensure the schools will not lose any independence.

Michael Delaine

Another proposal will increase extra grants to the schools from DKK 15 million (Pounds 1.32 million) to DKK 25 million (Pounds 2.2 million).

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