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Reforms proposed for Sweden's immigrant language classes

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Reforms proposed for Sweden's immigrant language classes
14:45 CET+01:00
Sweden's subsidized language courses for immigrants have been given a failing grade by a state quality control agency, despite recent attempts to improve the programme's curriculum.

“The introduction of a new curriculum for Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) hasn't brought about an improvement in results,” said the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) in a statement.

According to the agency's findings, presented to the government on Thursday, more than one in three SFI students fail to complete the programme within three years of starting their studies.

And among those that do get through the entire curriculum, only half manage a passing grade in the programme's highest level within three years.

The agency carried out the analysis following a government request in February 2008 in which it asked the agency to examine what sort of reforms would help improve SFI.

In carrying out the study, the agency compared results from students enrolled in SFI before and after the implementation of a new curriculum in 2003 and found that the changes had no noticeable effect.

The agency calls the findings “unsatisfactory” saying there is “great room for improvement” at SFI and outlining a number of suggested changes.

First on the list of proposed changes is giving more consideration to students' educational background when assigning them to a specific class. The agency found many instances where students with both high and low levels of education were placed in the same classroom, which hindered the progress of both groups.

In addition, the agency suggests expanding opportunities for SFI courses to be geared toward specific careers. By having an expanded, industry-specific vocabulary, SFI graduates would then be better equipped to enter the workforce.

The report also proposes that SFI implement a wider range of flexible lecture schedules, including distance learning opportunities, to increase the likelihood that students continue with their studies even if they find employment.

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