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Immigrants ready to defend Sweden - despite bad grades

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21:00 CEST+02:00
Two studies out this week gave the Department of Integration food for thought. While children born abroad tend to get school lower grades than those born in Sweden, by the time they come of age they are more inclined to fight for their new country.

Both Göteborgs-Posten and Svenska Dagbladet picked up on the results of a study by the Board of Education which showed the extent to which foreign-born children struggle to keep up with their Swedish peers - but their explanations for the problem were different.

"Swedish cities are not taking proper responsibility for immigrant children's first time in Sweden," said GP, which went on to point out that "barely half of newly-arrived children get the introduction to school which they are entitled to".

Magareta Johnson, from Gothenburg's Board of Integration, told the paper that all the focus until now has been on shifting adult immigrants into the labour market.

"This is the first time we've looked into how the introduction for children is going," she said. "And we can state that in many cities it's not going very well at all."

Gilda Kästen-Eberling works with newly-arrived immigrant children and she blamed the policy of mixing them into the normal school system after just two years in Sweden - "despite the fact that the teaching is in a completely new language, despite the traumatic experiences many of them have had".

According to Saturday's Svenska Dagbladet, another cause of the difference in educational advancement is "the foreign students' social backgrounds". The paper pointed out that immigrant children's parents are usually less educated and are more likely to be unemployed than the parents of Swedish-born youngsters.

"If you take into consideration the social factors, the difference is clearly reduced," said Bo Palaszewski, the project leader of the study.

The report also revealed that "pupils who go to school where more than four fifths have a foreign background have worse grades than those who go to less immigrant-dominated schools".

None of which explains why more immigrants say they are ready to take up arms in defence of Sweden than home-grown Swedes.

Monday's Svenska Dagbladet reported that 81% of immigrants recently interviewed by the Board of Integration said they would be prepared to defend Sweden in the event of a military attack. That's the good news. The bad news is that when faced with a similar question last year, only 79% of the public overall declared themselves willing to dig in and fend off foes.

"It wouldn't have been strange if the result for the immigrants had been below that for the whole public," said José Alberto Diaz, who led the research and whose comments suggested that he was as surprised as anyone by the results.

"It can take time to develop feelings of solidarity with the new country," he added, somewhat contradicting his own research.

The National Service Administration was most interested in the results, since Swedish lads with a foreign background are currently under-represented on the military service scheme.

"Foreign guys presumably have worse information about the army. They may be the first in the family to be called to national service." said Ann Elgemark, the director of information at the National Service Administration.

She added that on the basis of the Board of Integration's findings, her organisation would renew efforts to make immigrant youngsters aware that "they are welcome in the military".

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Göteborgs Posten

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