Frederiksberg Council in Denmark is set to introduce a new ‘wake up’ programme in order to combat truancy.
The move comes after the success of Nyborg Council’s wake-up system, which was implemented last year and has resulted in a significant decrease in absenteeism.
Similar to Nyborg, Frederiksberg will hire an employee whose job will be to ensure that school children attend school regularly and on time.
“We feel just like several other schools where kids are failing to turn up,” Margit Ørsted, the chairman of Frederiksberg’s teaching committee, said.
“A council ‘waker’ will function as an authority and show up at the child’s address and make both the parents and the child aware that they should attend school.”
Ørsted added that the employee would be available to assist parents and students with problems in the home, but stressed that it is the responsibility of the parents, and not the council, to wake children up in the morning.
Merete Riisager, the children and education spokesman for Liberal Alliance, said that it is “catastrophic” that the government wants to take over the role of parents.
“It’s disheartening that we have reached the point where public employees are entering the home of youths to wake them up,” Riisager said. “It creates an expectation among young people and their parents that if they do not bother, then the public will step in. It is not the task of the government to wake up teenagers. Excessive spoon feeding of this kind often disconnects the child from the harsh realities of the global labour market.”
Dorte Gammelholm, who wakes up 16 children – and some of their parents – daily in Nyborg, said that it is usually high school boys who have problems with getting up early in the morning.
“More than half of the families are socially vulnerable, but the rest are functioning families where the parents go to work every morning before the kids go to school,” Gammelholm said. “Sometimes it’s because the children are up playing computer games and watching television until late at night or it may be that kids are just weary of school.”
For smooth functioning families who have had no contact with the council before, it can be tough to involve the strangers in family matters,” Gammelhom added. “So I do not harass the parents about it, but I tell them that it’s probably a good idea if they can switch off the internet at half past eleven in the night.”