Only one in three completes SFI

Only 35 per cent of students who study Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) conclude the highest level of the course, according to a report released today by the Swedish National Agency for Education. The highest level is equivalent to grades 6-7 in a Swedish secondary school.

The Agency’s evaluation looked at results attained since the introduction of a new system for state-sponsored Swedish teaching in 2003. Under the new arrangement students are streamed into four levels, A-D, depending on their level of Swedish and prior education.

The National Agency for Education’s Eva Wirén, who carried out the evaluation, is quick to point out that many students come to the course with no educational background.

“I think it is very important to remember that it is quite a heterogeneous group. We have many students who are illiterate when they begin the course while others have a high level of education,” she tells The Local.

She adds that the previous system made no allowances for different capabilities, leaving many students who had completed part of the course with nothing to show for their efforts.

“Under the present system 66 per cent of students leave with at least some grade. The new system is useful because it means that when a student leaves after completing a lower grade the municipality knows the student’s level of Swedish and can place him or her in the appropriate class,” says Wirén.

While the number of students leaving with a grade is considerably higher than under the old system, a third of students still leave the course with no grade whatsoever. Does SFI have procedures in place to attempt to rein these students back in?

“That is up to the various municipalities. We haven’t focused so much on how we should work with getting them back in,” says Wirén.