Maverick schools face closure

31st May 1996 at 01:00
DENMARK. A controversial Bill designed to close the maverick Tvind schools is currently being debated by Denmark's parliament.

Founded in the 1970s on left-wing ideology, the 32-school Tvind network has long been an irritant to the Danish establishment because of its educational and operating principles.

Three recent reports accusing the schools of fraud, of using pupils for non-study activities - such as laying a floor in a Tvind school in England - and of having a financial structure that contravenes the Danish free school legislation have finally led minister of education Ole Vig Jensen to act. He has given short shrift to Tvind's promise of structural reforms.

Although a political majority is in favour of the Bill, it is having a rough passage. Legal experts call it unconstitutional: by passing the Bill, the Danish parliament would become the judiciary as well as the legislature - in defiance of the constitution's division of powers clause. The ministry of justice disagrees.

The Tvind schools have pointed out that a repayment demand from the ministry of education contained elementary errors and was based on obsolete data, mistakes which the ministry has now acknowledged.

If the Bill is passed and Tvind then fails to get a positive ruling from the Danish Supreme Court on the constitutional issue, an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights seems likely.

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