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Denmark: Fury at plan for big classes

Less cash per pupil, more effective teachers, more pupils in each class and a shorter school day. That is the government's prescription for the next decade as Denmark faces a 20 per cent (100,000) increase in pupil numbers by 2005 at a time when the ministry of finance is keeping a tight rein on local council spending.

The proposals have angered parents', pupils' and teachers' representatives who want school funding to be increased.

A recent Ministry of Finance budget report indicates that many schools can be run more efficiently and that "local councils' control of the educational sector has not been good enough". Running costs in the least effective schools are 140 per cent higher than in the most effective schools.

Schools cost Denmark #163;2.66 billion a year. The Danish Economic Council cited the school system as an example of public-sector inefficiency. Despite a drastic fall in the school roll since 1980 school costs have scarcely fallen.

An opinion poll conducted for the teachers' union showed that 73 per cent of parents believe that school funding should increase as the number of pupils rises.

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