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Mother tongue recorded in population register does not alone decide entitlement to day care in the Sámi language

An entry in the population register specifying a child's mother tongue cannot on its own be regarded as decisive when considering a child's right to a place in a Sámi-speaking day-care facility, Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin points out.

The Sámi Parliament had asked the Ombudsman to examine what measures should be taken so that the language rights of the children of Sámi-speaking people with respect to day-care services would be safeguarded equitably in all municipalities, and whether the legislation regulating the personal data system would need to be amended.  
 
Problems in access to day care

According to the Sámi Parliament, the way mother tongue is indicated in the population register has caused problems in children's access to places in Sámi-speaking day-care facilities.
 
Some children who do not speak Sámi are catered for by the day-care system. On the other hand, it has happened that Sámi children who can speak Sámi, but whose mother tongue is not indicated as Sámi in the population register, have been excluded from the day-care system.
 
The Council of Europe's Advisory Committee on Protection of National Minorities has recommended that access to Sámi-speaking pre-schools should not be based on which language is specified in the population register as the mother tongue.
 
The Committee pointed out in support of its recommendation that, although many Sámi are de facto bilingual, only one language can be entered in the population register as the mother tongue.

The request for an explanation did not require other measures on the part of the Deputy-Ombudsman. Ms. Sakslin took the view that the question of a child's day care in an individual case is in the final analysis a matter for a court of law to decide.


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