Abid Raja, father of two, thinks half a day in kindergarten should be obligatory for 4 year old from non-Western countries, such as Pakistan, Somalia and Morocco. From the age of 5, children should be in kindergarten full time. The cause is that many children can't speak Norwegian when they begin school, because they don't go to kindergarten. "It hinders integration that many immigrant children don't know a word of Norwegian as 6 year olds. The result is that they keep to each other instead of with Norwegian children" says Raja, who is a lawyer and member of the Liberal Party. Jan Bøhler (Ap) recently proposed to withdraw financial support given to parents.
84% of immigrant families in Oslo keep their children home and receive financial support, compared with 30% of Norwegian families.
Abid Raja also thinks that the financial support given to parents is a big problem for integration of immigrants. A family can get up to 39,636 kroner a year (almost $7000) in financial support for keeping their children home. Raja believes many immigrant families are tempted because they get bad advice. Therefore the obligatory kindergartens should be free.
Gunn Karin Gjul of the labor party is skeptical of Raja's proposal. "I don't think we can require something that we don't require from ethnic Norwegians. IT is discrimination." says Gjul to VG.
The Stovner neighborhood of Oslo offers all families four hours of kindergarten daily for children over four. The offer is available for Norwegian families as well.