6.1 Introduction

A country that claims to be a fair democracy must offer quality and inclusive education to all its citizens. This is particularly challenging when it comes to second generation immigrants (children born in the host country to first generation immigrants) or first generation child immigrants (children who immigrate with their parents into the country) as the balance between the obligations and rights of the state vis-à-vis the obligations and rights of this group of immigrant children is complex and multifaceted.

This inherent complexity can be addressed by the availability of clear formal educational policy and guideline documents to establish a foundation for equitable and fair representation of rights and responsibilities to contribute to the creation of a culture of mutual trust, respect and expectations between the host nation and the immigrant populace (UNESCO, 2017).

When it comes to immigrant children, the role of culture and language are important determinants of identity (Costigan et al., 2010; Daha, 2011; Phinney, 2002). These are often juxtaposed with the ethos of the dominant culture, language and socio-political attitudes and their accepted status in the host society, impacting the ethnic identity of these children (Phinney, 2002).

The aim of this chapter is to examine whether policies on integration and education in The Faroe Islands are fit-for-purpose when viewed from dual lenses: the acknowledgement of the importance of ethnic cultural identity and heritage language (first language/mother tongue)Footnote 1 of immigrant children and their inclusion through education towards integration in The Faroe Islands. The focus is on whether existing policies consider the pivotal relationship between language and identity in education for second generation immigrant children and immigrant children in compulsory schools, i.e., grades 1 to 9 to ensure that they have agency in Faroese society.

6.2 Contextual Background

As per the National Bureau of Statistics, The Faroe Islands with 52,703 population has 1763 immigrants from 100 countries, (excluding other Nordic countries), constituting 3.6% of the population.Footnote 2 In the age group 0-18 years, there are 295 immigrant children from 50 different countries as per February 2020 (J. Lydersen, personal communication, Nov 18, 2020). Figures provided by the Head of Education for Compulsory Schools at the Ministry of Education and Culture indicate that in 2020-21, a total of 313 immigrant students asked for extra teaching in Faroese (J. Lydersen, personal communication, Nov 20, 2020). While this gives an indication of how many immigrant children have had access to this provision, the bureau does not have the total number of second generation immigrant children (J. Bærentsen, personal communication, Oct 15, 2020).

The Home Rule Act of 1948Footnote 3 established the Faroe Islands as a self-governing territory within the kingdom of Denmark (Hayfield, 2017). It acknowledged Faroese as the “principal language, but it also states that Danish and Faroese shall enjoy equal status” (Holm, 2019, p. 96). Volckmar (2019) highlights that Faroese is the language of compulsory schools, and in 2005, the Takeover ActFootnote 4 that replaced the Home Rule Act, gave Faroese authorities responsibility for education, hitherto under Danish authority.

Setting a context for the Takeover Act within the concept of policy diffusion, Volckmar says (Volckmar, 2019), “Policy diffusion is defined as one government’s policy choices being influenced by the choices made by other governments” (p. 124). Despite the differences between the countries, the proximity of the Faroe Islands to Norway and Denmark offered a ready source of reference for education once this portfolio became Faroese. According to Volckmar (2019), the Faroese national curriculum legislated in 2011 was inspired by the Norwegian Curriculum for Knowledge Promotion in Primary and Secondary Education and Training of 2006. Volckmar (ibid) describes the process as “silent borrowing”, i.e., “non-explicit borrowing processes in Faroese educational policy-making” (p. 124). As the Takeover Act has not been ratified for the portfolio on foreign policy and immigration, Denmark retains decision-making, but work is ongoing to make it Faroese. Therefore, the integration policy is dictated by Danish law, allowing limited autonomous changes to the Faroese integration policy.

6.2.1 Role of Faroese Language

A pertinent factor is the role of Faroese, which is yet to be awarded national language status. Nevertheless, Faroese is not seen as a ‘minority’ language, because it is the major language in The Faroe Islands, and secondly, it is the language of the state and education here (Holm, 2003). It can be described as a ‘minoritized’ language from a socio-political perspective given the historical, political and ideological struggle to throw off the linguistic imperialism of Danish and successfully establish the language within a geographical territory of Denmark (Holm, 2003).

Faroese is considered the national language by its people and increased efforts to standardise it have resulted in its maintenance and entrenchment as the language of the islands after a history of struggle (Holm, 2003). As the status of Faroese has a significant and understandable impact on the linguistic and socio-cultural perspectives of the nation, it is but natural that immigrant minorities’ languages, (languages much larger than Faroese) are perceived as a possible threat to it. The official status still enjoyed by Danish, and the influence of English as lingua franca too are seen as cause for concern (Holm, 2003). A study conducted in 2020 established that there is no decline in the using of Faroese or ethnic Faroese people’s positive attitude and commitment to it (Andreassen, 2020).

6.3 Theoretical Underpinnings

The connection between language and identity of second generation immigrant and child immigrants, and its relevance to inclusion through education are the key foci within the existing policies. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO, 2017), national level policy communicates a particular standpoint based on a belief system and engenders action coloured by political or ideological stance. Policy provides procedures for praxis to be implemented and emphasises the importance of appropriate implementation (Bell & Stevenson, 2006).

6.3.1 Inclusion and Social Justice in Education

The OECD (2016) equity framework has two objectives for education:

inclusion – to ensure that all students, particularly those from disadvantaged or traditionally marginalised groups, immigrants included, acquire fundamental skills, and fairness – to remove obstacles over which students have no control to student achievement, including an immigrant background.

Education is key to integration, development of democracy, and community building through including multiple human narratives (Ball, 2016). Schools must be centrally “concerned with literacies for active local and global citizenship…” (ibid, p. 26), suggesting that education must engender social justice through being inclusive. If the negative impact of students’ immigrant background on their educational outcomes is minimised, equity, social cohesion, sense of belonging and positive economic outcomes can be achieved (OECD, 2016).

A fair policy involves a decidedly participative stance encompassing all stakeholders. It is one that is based on social justice, language rights and the development of the individual, without compromising the rights of all whom the policy might impact (Bianco, 2010). The main thrust of his arguments is that “social cohesion and common citizenship” (p. 39) cannot be served by monolingualism; multilingualism is not a hindrance to a society’s ability to communicate across various groups. He puts forward a convincing perspective of language as the one facet of cultural diversity which promotes the continuing development of individuals.

Bianco (2010) argues that policies for cultural diversity require two foci: engendering shared, accessible fairer communication and strengthening and maintaining diverse languages with the inherent cultural diversity and variance unique to them. In his opinion, the vital role that languages play in shaping meaning and identity makes it incumbent on a society, which wishes for cultural pluralism and diversity, to fix its goal on multilingualism as its focused policy objective. This begs the question as to what the integration and educational policies indicate of the intentions and attitudes of the Faroese government to education and integration.

6.3.2 Language and Identity Link

As documented in literature, the relationship between language and sociocultural identity is clear. A balance must be struck between the immigrant children’s maintenance of ethnic identity and their heritage language and integration and learning the host/dominant language of the country. Language facilitates a sense of allegiance to a target language group. It paves the way to understanding and accepting the culture of the group and enables interaction with the group towards a sense of belonging (Phinney et al., 2001). The significance of heritage language influence is complex as it can both underpin affiliation to the ethnic culture and simultaneously enable psychological adjustment by the migrant (Virta et al., 2004). Language and Acculturation

The role of language in acculturation can be viewed through sociolinguistic and psychological viewpoints to explore the positive or negative impact on immigrant language learning. ‘Acculturation’ involves psychological change in the migrant from interaction with the host nation. It requires renouncing of aspects of one’s home culture (‘culture shedding’) and accepting and internalising elements of culture of the host country (‘culture learning’) Berry (2010).

Individual acculturation colours how language and cultural identity are negotiated – they are influenced by one’s age, when entering the host society, and the duration of stay (Liebkind et al., 2004; Liebkind & Jasinskaja-Lahti, 2000). For an individual, acculturation means that cultural, ethnic and national identities are negotiated internally within the host society while establishing balance between the language of the dominant community and one’s own mother tongue (Horenczyk, 2000).

Learning a language carries implication of identity, and Edwards (2003, p. 41) states, “beyond utilitarian and unemotional instrumentality, the heart of bilingualism is belonging”. While interaction and friendship with peers may build a platform for social intercourse and greater association in Faroese society, a caveat is that exposure to the national culture outside ethnic groups in formative years, may well accelerate and strengthen acculturation. This can be both positive and negative, with assimilation being at the negative end of the continuum resulting in loss of ethnic identity that may contribute to subtractive bilingualism, i.e., the loss of the first language (Nehr, 2001).

Often, immigrant children who integrate (defined as being engaged in both their heritage culture and host society) are better adapted than those who assimilate, i.e., adopt thoughts and attitudes comparable to those of the host nation (Berry, 2010) and have merged into its culture. Given that literate ability matures around ten years of age, for child immigrants, the first language may not have become entrenched before second language interference occurs (Oerter & Montada, 2002; Seville-Troike, 2000). This carries potential for conflict within an individual’s sense of identity and place in a community and the resultant sense of ‘otherness’. According to Yağmur and van de Vijver (2012), host language proficiency is necessary for sociocultural adjustment, and the heritage language for ethnic identity.

Nehr (2001) makes a salient point about accepting simultaneous bilingualism, i.e., both the first language and dominant language for development of the immigrant children to avoid problems in language learning and issues of identity. She advocates the maintenance and development of the immigrant mother tongue as a vehicle for understanding native written culture, competent language skills in the dominant language to levels acceptable by the host nation and availability of teachers with bilingual competencies.

For immigrant children, their heritage language and culture of parents’ original country creates an extra social and psychological layer/barrier between them and full access to Faroese society. The younger they are when they enter the Faroes, the greater the chances of learning the target language and finding a path towards acculturation, though with a risk of subtractive bilingualism. Therefore, schooling has a major role in facilitating inclusion.

According to aforementioned literature, integration and education policies must strive to ensure social justice and inclusiveness to serve this demographic group equitably. In the Faroese context, it comprises acknowledging that Faroese is not the first language for immigrant students, using foreign language acquisition approach in Faroese instruction, and providing equitable concessions to ensure proficiency levels in Faroese do not hinder education opportunities for immigrant children. Ideally, an educational policy with clear guidelines for teaching and learning for this demographic is necessary to ensure commitment from leadership and staff in schools to implement the policy effectively.

6.4 Methodology

The methodology involves document analysis from the qualitative paradigm as the sole research instrument. As public policy documents are crucial in setting a framework and signalling top down commitment, it is deemed appropriate to use this instrument. The reliance on documents is justified by the fact that integration of and education for immigrants are in their infancy in the islands. Some policies are very new, and others have yet to enter the implementation phase.

Document analysis is considered advantageous as the researcher works nearly invisibly, studying as he/she does the documents in detail and not engaging with people (Bowen, 2009). It makes collecting and analysing data a cost-effective way and suitable for a small-scale study which involves only a few relevant available documents. While acquiring documents maybe pose difficulties, government policy documents included in this study are readily available in the public arena. This means ethical approval for the researcher’s access to these primary sources is not relevant in this context; the ethical issue comes into play in the role the author plays in this research context.

The interview technique, where the researcher treats the document like an interviewee that gives the researcher the relevant information (O’Leary, 2014) has been used. The researcher uses the study aims as the point of departure to seek relevant data comprised of a few sentences and parts of sentences within various documents.

The documents were studied deductively and inductively based on three main themes: reference to first language preservation of immigrant through mother tongue teaching (mother tongue teaching), acknowledging the importance of their heritage culture, and a policy for teaching Faroese as a second/foreign language. The inductive analysis revealed attitudinal assumptions in the integration report (2011), which are also explored. While other instruments of research may have given richer perspectives, the lack of coherent policy development, ‘newness’ of some policy and no implementation made document analysis a more viable and relevant approach.

6.5 Analysis

The conceptual framework of Bell and Stevenson (2006) is used as the basis for analysis as it affords multiple perspectives from which to view policy documents. Adopting the adage that “There is no such thing as a value-free policy: all policy has value-based intent” (Cardno, 2018, p. 624), the policy stance is examined from three aspects: context, text and consequences.

The formal policy documents of relevance to be scrutinised are the Integration Committee Report (2011), The Faroese Education Act of 1997 (Revised in 1999 & 2000) and the Executive order no.144 on Teaching Faroese as a Second Language and Mother Tongue Teaching (Oct 6, 2020). All the documents have been translated into English by the author, for whom comprehending Faroese documents poses no challenges.

6.5.1 Policy Context: The Integration Committee Report (2011)

The Faroese government felt that an integration policy was warranted for the country to facilitate the transition of the portfolio from Denmark. To this end, a working group was established in 2010 by the Minister of the Interior, with representative stakeholders, including two ‘foreign representatives’ (one of whom was the author) as consultants.

The working group report acknowledged the contribution immigrants make to the society and accepted that integration is a new concept in The Faroes. It defined integration as, “an individual and society adjusting to each other” (translated by author, 2020). A successful integration was described as one where immigrants had influence and participated in the host society on an equal footing with ethnic Faroese. Integration was to consider both the Faroese and immigrant traditions and cultures, so the immigrant maintains his/her identity. Policy Text

Relevant recommendations include an integration law to ensure commitment to structure a policy on integration with the necessary monies to demarcate the rights, obligations and responsibilities of the country and of the immigrants; a beginner’s course in Faroese for adult immigrants, including learning about Faroese culture and society, so they can apply for residence permit, followed by citizenship; the Education Act for Compulsory Schools, § 5. para 6 recommends extra classes for immigrant school children, which currently is 20 × 45-minute sessions, which in larger schools sees the 20 sessions divided among the children; funding for 100 hours of Faroese and 50 hours of socio-cultural input (3 h/week for each individual) and materials design should be an important focus area. Policy Consequences

The challenges for implementing beginners’ course in Faroese have already been identified in the working group document. It highlights the importance of first having a law for integration to both protect the country and its immigrants, so the rights, obligations and commitment to ensure a two-way participative stance towards integration can be established. It recommends that language courses be mandatory and be tied to acquiring residency and subsequently citizenship, and social financial help with the proviso for exemption.

A limited review of this document is possible in the light of The Faroe Islands as an independent territory of Denmark. It is worth noting that Denmark’s immigration and integration policies have often attracted criticism from the EU, Amnesty International and other organisations for being stringent, and this impacts the Faroese version. The punitive approach to learning Faroese is already clear in this working group report given the necessity to adhere to Danish policy conditions. While acculturation with equal respect for host and immigrant cultures is mentioned in the report, the stance seems to favour assimilation. Emphasis is on Faroese cultural values being imbibed, but little acknowledgement is made of the crucial relationship between language and identity or the culture and first language of immigrant children.

This is not unexpected as the ‘parent’ Danish policy is restrictive having introduced the ‘Integration Contract’ in 2006, and the ‘Integration Exam’ in 2007 as the basis of permanent residence permit and citizenship with punitive measures for immigrants who do not pass the language and culture exams (Jensen et al., 2009). These authors offer a useful overview of attitudinal significance of Danish policy, which is applicable to the Faroese one. The policies emphasise contradictory ideas - cultural oneness but tout equal rights, equal opportunities and self-reliance. Equality is seen as having “a certain degree of sameness… To be equal in Danish society, thus tends to imply to be similar” (p. 5). Integration is viewed as assimilation, and its goal is ‘individual inclusion’ and ‘cultural transformation’. Immigrants are expected to adopt Danish values (ibid) and tailor their values to Danish values, thereby placing the onus of integration on the immigrants.

When the Minister of Environment, Industry & Trade inaugurated the new online portal on immigration for Faroese society on 20 Jan 2020, he mentioned that an integration law is to be passed, and the government is working on it.Footnote 5 Therefore, no review of the law and its implementation is possible, except to add that the two largest municipalities and the Immigration office have since appointed integration coordinators. It would perhaps be fair to say that policy borrowing dominates the Faroese approach in its attitudinal similarity to the Danish one.

Moving onto studying what the educational policy offers the immigrant children, the section below commences with the National Act on Education.

6.5.2 Policy Context: The Faroese Education Law of 1997 (Revised in 1999 & 2000) with Reference to its Provisions for Immigrant Children in Compulsory Education

The policy context of laws on education involve many stakeholders - parents, teachers, school leaders, department of education, politicians and the teacher union. Everyone in a school is affected by policy guidelines, and school leaders need to be clear on how policy is to be whittled down to implementation by using key players to ensure involvement and ownership. This Act covers pre-schoolers and education of school children (7-16 years) in the compulsory schools. At first glance, the policy stance appears to be one of inclusiveness. Policy Text

The document clearly states that education is for all and focuses on the importance of the development of every individual student, so they can achieve the necessary skills to contribute to society. The teaching environment and daily routines should be based on Christian principles, yet grant religious freedom, tolerance, equality and democracy (§ 2:3). The 29 municipalities have to structure education in their jurisdiction according to the national framework.

This local outsourcing of education creates imbalance in the country based on the location, size, and financial resources of the municipalities. For example, the largest municipality of Torshavn offers Faroese for foreigners, and this is also extended to child immigrants, “The 20 hours of free Faroese lessons also apply to school children, who have moved to the Faroe Islands.”Footnote 6 This is not the case with all municipalities and equity becomes a challenge at the outset. In § 5. para 6, the law declares that children with Faroese as their second language can have special help to learn Faroese in compulsory school. This means 20 × 45-minute sessions in all. In some large schools, as this quota is distributed amongst several students, it can result in as low as 9 h per annum per child. The Act specifies mother tongue teaching for this target group in § 4. para 5 and states that bilingual pre-schoolers will be offered support for acquiring Faroese. Policy Consequences

Policy is important in education because it regulates the resources provided for educational activity, and one expects that it will promote equitable education (Razik & Swanson, 2010). The law has made clear that education is to be inclusive, with a bias towards a Christian background. It has not implemented the provision for pre-schoolers as yet with mother tongue teaching. If implemented, while this might enable children to be better prepared for compulsory education in Faroese, there is no awareness shown for the possible impact on the first language of this group, which must be preserved given its implications for the language and identity of immigrant children.

Extra Faroese classes for immigrant children have been implemented, which is helpful, but inadequate for fulfilling learning requirements. Research is clear that one requires about 6-7 years to acquire competence in a second language. Moreover, the immigrant children are often removed from regular classes for the extra Faroese input, exacerbating the challenges in the learning of other subjects as well. An attempt to redress the apparent drawbacks comes in the form of the next policy as revealed in its analysis.

6.5.3 Policy Context: Executive Order No.144 on Teaching Faroese as a Second Language and Mother Tongue Teaching (Oct 6, 2020)

This executive order came into effect on Oct 7, 2020. In the push to formalise integration, incremental changes ensure that the Education Act can be implemented to lay the foundation for other aspects of integration. Policy Text

The order states that immigrant children should acquire “skills of speaking, reading, and writing Faroese” (§1:1, Executive order no. 144. 2020, translated by author). They should be able to use Faroese as a tool and in communication, so they become “bilingual in terms of being able to use Faroese in speaking and writing” (§1:2). Culture and societal issues should be a part of teaching in Faroese as a second language” (§1:3).

Immigrant children “can be educated in their mother tongues” (§2: 3). The schools have been given responsibility to organise the teaching of Faroese as a second language in consultation with parents and students based on individual. The culture and societal issues of the host and immigrant cultures should be part of teaching (§3:2, 3). The school will organise the teaching of Faroese as a second language with the class teacher and a teacher who is qualified in second language acquisition (§3:4). The hours designated for teaching will be based on student needs and ability. The aim is to give the student 3 years of extra help in Faroese as a second language and extend this period, if necessary, based on evaluation of student progress (§4:4).

The order outlines a possible approach for teaching the immigrant children as part of the mainstream classroom, on an individual basis or part of a group, in a ‘reception’ class specifically constituted of second generation immigrant children and child immigrants, where they can be placed for a maximum of 6 months (§5:5). Maximum number of students can be 7 and be increased to 12 students depending on the competencies of the students and upto 18, if there are two teachers (§5:6). There be maximum three grades in one class, but if level of language is comparable, 5 grades can be grouped together (§5:7). Furthermore, with parents’ consent, immigrant children may be exempt from other subjects, (except Faroese and Mathematics), to facilitate learning Faroese. In place of other subjects, the students will be taught about their heritage and country of origin together with Faroese culture. Teachers are to be formally qualified to teach Faroese as a second language to this student demographic. Policy Consequences

This policy serves to address gaps in previous policies by actually detailing a strategy for implementing teaching of Faroese as a second language. There is much emphasis on proactive help, clear categorisation of how the schools should present these students with clear details in their application to the Ministry of Education and Culture and the obligations of schools.

It is relevant to glean the policy of the host community toward minority (immigrant) languages, i.e., the stance from which the policy is worded as “… the acculturation orientations of the immigrant groups and language policies of the receiving societies have an effect on language use and adaptation patterns” (Yağmur & van de Vijver, 2012, p. 1112). The policy focuses on second generation immigrant children and child immigrants being bilingual, but the emphasis is clearly towards acquiring Faroese language skills and culture. It does not indicate what would be done to ensure first language competence or even consider its implications for immigrant identity.

The Faroese school system is still gearing up to meet the challenges of educating second generation immigrant children and child immigrants. The schools will be required to presumably implement this in the new academic year 2021-22, and the timeframe is tight. The Faculty of Faroese in The University of The Faroe Islands has been tasked with designing the teaching of Faroese as a second language, and the author was asked to be an external advisor in early November 2020. Nevertheless, it is a positive development in a hitherto neglected area of education and may lay the foundations for inclusive education.

It is pivotal that the measures outlined in this directive can and are implemented using a framework that has sought consensus from the internal stakeholders. For a policy to be implemented, availability of resources in terms of funding, teachers and materials are crucial. Understanding requirements of individual students is a time-consuming process necessitating competent evaluation procedures. A synergy must be established through a top down and bottom up agreement and cooperation to fulfil aims and objectives.

The prerequisites of teacher expertise for diagnostic testing, i.e., tests designed to assess student competence, making teaching more focused and tailor made for this cohort, and plan for teaching these students showing awareness of culturally responsive pedagogy and understanding for their sociocultural identities may prove complex and challenging.

As teachers have not been given the opportunity to become qualified in teaching Faroese as a second language, the initial period will presumably be one of trial and error. Issues of teacher self-efficacy, motivation for teaching immigrant children and the significance of moving from mother tongue teaching to second language acquisition, which would be significant in this context, are not the remit of this chapter.

While this policy cannot be evaluated as yet, it would be relevant to see what it achieves in the integration and education of second generation immigrant children and child immigrants. The acknowledgement of the importance of first language and culture of this target group sounds promising, but time will tell if this policy addresses the goal optimally. If the policy foreshadows the ethos of integration in Denmark outlined earlier, optimism must come with time and proof of positive outcomes.

6.5.4 The UNESCO Framework of Analysis

This framework allows for an examination of how inclusion and equity currently figure in policies. Based on the analysis of the documents, the sections in bold identify the status quo in The Faroe Islands as being in the nascent phase. (Adapted from UNESCO, 2017, p. 42).

Points of relevance

Level of progress

Nascent phase

Planning phase

Implementation phase

Inclusion and equity are overarching principles that guide all educational policies, plans and practices

Inclusion and equity are not yet strong features of educational policies, plans and practices but initial discussions have begun regarding this

Planning has commenced to acknowledge the role of inclusion and equity with regard to educational policies, plans and practices

Actions have been taken to ensure that inclusion and equity are features of educational policies, plans and practices

The important national education policy documents strongly emphasize inclusion and equity

Although there is little mention of inclusion and equity in important national education policy documents, initial discussions have taken place to address this issue

Planning activities have taken place to make inclusion and equity a feature of important national education policy documents

Actions have been taken to ensure that inclusion and equity are a feature of important national education policy documents

To what extent are educational leaders (local authorities, senior staff, school principals) trained regarding their responsibilities for enhancing inclusion and removing barriers?

While senior staff at the national and district levels provide limited leadership on inclusion and equity in education, initial discussions have taken place to strengthen this aspect

Planning has begun to encourage senior staff, at the national and district levels, to provide leadership on inclusion and equity in education

Actions have been taken to ensure that senior staff at the national and district levels are providing leadership on inclusion and equity in education

Schools and other learning centres have strategies for encouraging the presence, participation and achievement of all learners from their local community

Although support for vulnerable learners is varied in quality, discussions have taken place to bring about improvements

Planning has been going on to strengthen the support provided for learners at risk of underachievement marginalization and exclusion

Action has been taken to ensure effective support for learners at risk of underachievement marginalization and exclusion

6.5.5 Discussion

When the directive was open to public scrutiny and comments, there was a discussion if “Teaching of Faroese to speakers of other languages”, or “Faroese as a second language” were appropriate, but the directive chose the latter, which was seen as carrying overtones of an assimilative attitude, even though using “second language” is appropriate in the given field.

Access to language learning (formal) and language exposure (informal) impact the development of both first and second languages. As it stands, subtractive bilingualism appears to be a potential risk in The Faroes. Limited exposure to the first language (given the proportionately less time children spend using it actively at home), and the current trend in society with regard to English pose challenges. Education policy states the rights of immigrant children to have mother tongue teaching, but this has never been practised so far as the Integration report 2011 established. The latest directive indicates implementation in the near future without specifying a deadline or a strategy to minimise subtractive bilingualism.

The fact that there are children and youth with more than 50 different languages in Faroese society creates challenges for mother tongue teaching. It requires a logical, clear plan of action conspicuously missing in the government directive. While acknowledgement of the importance of cultural inheritance to identity finds mention at the policy level, there are no strategic plans for implementation in the directive. The time factor for commencing courses for teachers in teaching Faroese as a second language may have potential implications for fit-for-purpose implementation of the policies.

Additive bilingualism, where support is offered for first language simultaneously during acquisition of second language (Enstice, 2017), is yet to become reality in the islands making achieving functional bilingualism challenging. Av Skarði (2018 in Holm et al., 2019) indicates that “Faroese as a foreign or additional language has not been developed, nationally coordinated or formalized” (p. 399).

The need for ‘extra’ Faroese is emphasised in all documents, and the three years for Faroese as a second language for immigrant children offers ground for cautious optimism. Nevertheless, there are no clear guidelines for school leaders and teachers to navigate these complex paths. The ambitious intention to implement teaching Faroese as a second language does not include how in-service teachers will be professionally trained to competently fulfil the goals, apart from the proposed course. Currently, a working group has been appointed to prepare teachers to teach Faroese as a second language. Further insight on this will be offered in the next chapter.

The policy document may also be evaluated on what is omitted. The concepts of equity or social justice in education find no mention in any of the documents. Absence of terms like ‘multilingualism’, ‘plurilingualism’, ‘multicultural’ is perhaps an indication that the Faroese language and culture are given precedence. It is this focus on Faroese language and culture that dominates the discourse and not one of embracing plurality. Furthermore, policies should be monitored, evaluated, modified and adjusted for improvement and rectifying mistakes (Bianco, 2010) to ensure fairness, and one may hope this will be the case.

6.6 Conclusion

The chapter has studied the status quo of education for second generation immigrant children and child immigrants in The Faroe Islands with regard to the policies for their education and inclusion. It has sought evidence for the acknowledgement of ethnic cultural identity of immigrant children as vital to creating a sense of self, the maintenance of the first language of this target group, specific plans for teaching them Faroese as a second language and their inclusion through education towards becoming fully-fledged members of Faroese society.

Lack of focus on the importance of language-identity connection and a social justice stance do appear problematic. Government policies for immigrant children are being generated with apparently unilateral perspectives. They indicate preparing immigrant children for life in society by focusing on Faroese culture, language and traditions. There seems to be no commitment to preserving heritage cultures, no informed discussion of why mother tongue teaching matters or how children with over 50 languages could have mother tongue teaching, but only a delineation that teaching in schools will include these issues.

The policies indicate that the islands are in the nascent phase of inclusion and equity in education. The Faroese approach with its echoes of the Danish model, and the current assimilation-oriented discourse, may undermine an inclusive, socially just approach to education for immigrant children in The Faroe Islands.

6.6.1 Significance of the Study

This study breaks new grounds in research in The Faroe Islands, where no research exists on policies for this target group. This analysis might offer Faroese authorities insight into the salient, though complex implications of the inextricable tie between language and identity. It may highlight the validity of accepting multilingualism, multiculturalism and the significance of inclusive and meaningful education for all children through addressing the incontrovertible importance of heritage culture, identity and language to immigrant children.

As contribution to educational policy, the study adds to the challenges of inclusive education in a society, where the majority language is minoritized, and the ethnic people are predominantly bilingual. It analyses the consequences of policy borrowing and policy diffusion, which may impact the appropriacy of the policy stance in serving local contexts.

Possible author bias is overtly stated here as it may have coloured the study. I am a first-generation immigrant woman with English as my first language and personal experience of being an immigrant in Faroese society. My professional role is in teaching and research. My career began at the tertiary level in India from 1986, in the secondary level in The Faroes from 1993, tertiary level teaching from 2011 and research from 2014 to the present. My two second generation immigrant sons have studied in the Faroese educational system. What I perceive as the failure of the system have created convictions on how integration through inclusive education may be organised. However, in anchoring the study in valid research perspectives in the field and adopting relevant policy frameworks as objective tools for analyses, author bias may have been mitigated.

To establish a fair and progressive nation, every citizen must have a voice and contribute to strengthening the fabric of society. The key to individual development is education, which can facilitate agency and promote equity and social justice. In The Faroe Islands, there is much to be gained from establishing an inclusive and progressive society where policy can ensure inclusion and diversity enrich the ethos of the nation.