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Islamic Schools Produce Best Students in Denmark

COPENHAGEN – Students in Islamic private schools in Denmark are achieving better results than their counterparts in public schools, an analysis has revealed, breaking stereotypes about Muslims’ integration.

“Many have the idea that independent Muslim schools are a place where you only read the Koran, and that hurts integration,” Nicolai Kaarsen, a senior economist at Kraka and co-author of the analysis, told Politiken on Tuesday, September 20.

“Politicians and public schools should take stock of this knowledge and perhaps learn something from the Muslim private schools.”

Kaarsen was referring to analysis by the politically independent think-tank Kraka which revealed that students with a non-western background attending Muslim private schools, whose mother tongue is not Danish, are achieving significantly better grades in their 9th grade exit examinations than their counterparts at Danish public schools.

According to the analysis, the difference between the students’ final examination marks is 1.4 grade points, an average of 4.6 at the public schools and 6.0 at the Muslim private schools.

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Students from Denmark’s 20 Muslim private schools also perform better over the long-term.

Over 28 percent of the graduates from Muslim private schools had completed a upper-secondary education three years after 9th grade, compared to only 21 percent of children with similar backgrounds leaving public schools.

The analysis was based on data from 29,000 immigrants from 17 non-Western countries, with the students completing the 9th grade between 2007 and 2014. Of these, 1,634 attended a Muslim private school.

Niels Egelund, a school researcher and professor at the DPU at Aarhus University, pointed out that culture of discipline was the main reason behind Muslim private schools’ success.

“There is a fundamental difference in respect and an overall sense of calm,” he said.

“Students look up to teachers as authority figures, and you do not see students acting up and creating disturbances in the classroom.”