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Language courses face major changes

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18:30 CEST+02:00

SFI, the much-maligned state-run programme providing Swedish lessons for immigrants, is to be overhauled next year, the government has announced.

But the new reforms will place heavy demands on students – they will now have to study for a minimum of fifteen hours a week. The government hopes this will lead to an improvement in SFI's currently unimpressive results.

Only forty percent of students currently reach the necessary standard after three years of study.

Other reforms revealed by adult education minister Lena Hallengren included a plan to start teaching illiterate immigrants at SFI rather than in other parts of the adult education system.

The reformed organisation, will change its name slightly to "Utbildning i Svenska för Invandrare" (education in Swedish for immigrants).

Hallengren says she also wants the courses to work more closely with job centres, so that immigrants get to practice their Swedish in a working environment.

"More people have to learn Swedish –and do so more quickly," Hallengren told Swedish Radio.

The changes will be introduced in July 2006.

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