The right of indigenous peoples to education in their own language: Greenlanders in Denmark and in Greenland

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Abstract

Both language and culture are interdependent pillars on which the identity of a people is maintained, including indigenous peoples. Without the appropriate linguistic terminology available to express indigenous philosophies and concepts, indigenous peoples lose some of their ability to accurately define themselves in accordance with their traditions and to convey these traditions to future generations. This is also why it is important that language is recognized by law. In the Greenland Self-Government Act from 2009 the Greenlandic language is recognised as the official language in Greenland. However since the Act two languages are used in practice in Greenland where Greenlandic is the main language and Danish is the other. The relationship between the two languages has been, and still is, problematic, particularly when it comes to the education of the Greenlandic children, and especially those living in Denmark because of the great difficulty they are experiencing in moving back to Greenland.. Accordingly, this paper examines the rights of those children to an education in their own language, according to international law, including in particular ILO Convention 169, both in Greenland and in Denmark. As a part of this examination the paper also gives an overview of history of the Greenlandic school system. Finally the paper compares the current situation of Greenlanders in Denmark with the Sami peoples in Norway.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Yearbook of Polar Law Volume 9, 2017
EditorsGudmundur Alfredsson, Timo Koivurova
Volume9
PublisherBrill | Nijhoff
Publication date20. Dec 2018
Pages79-108
ISBN (Print)9789004342415
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20. Dec 2018
SeriesThe Yearbook of Polar Law
ISSN1876-8814

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