‘Asylum kids have a right to free schooling’

A government report has recommended that children of all asylum seekers should be given the right to attend pre-schools and schools, bringing Sweden closer into line with UN conventions.

The report, penned by government investigator Margareta Åberg and presented to the education minister Jan Björklund on Tuesday, recommends that all children resident in Sweden should be offered statutory education, regardless of their immigration status.

“All children, regardless of whether they are inside or outside the asylum process, should have a right to an education, including pre-school and after-school care,” Åberg writes in a government statement on Tuesday.

The report complements a previous inquiry from 2007 which excluded certain categories of asylum seekers – such as those who had not applied for the necessary permits.

“My main task has therefore been to analyse the conditions for how the right to schooling can be extended to more groups,” Åberg explains.

The inquiry proposes that funding should be made available from the local municipalities in which the children are resident and that they should also have the right to attend privately managed schools.

Local municipalities would then be reimbursed by the state.

The inquiry recommends the removal of the existing obligation for social welfare boards and schools to inform the authorities over the children in their care – a move which it is hoped will encourage more children to attend school.

“Access to schooling gives the children the opportunity to develop and to stabilize their situation,” Margareta Åberg concludes.

The proposal, if adopted, would also bring Swedish legislation closer into line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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