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Sweden boosts support to immigrant students

12 Sep 2012, 13:10

Published: 12 Sep 2012 13:10 GMT+02:00

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The new funds, scheduled to be spent between 2013 and 2016, are part of the government's efforts to address sinking academic performance of foreign-born children who arrive in Sweden after the age when primary school begins – around 7-years-old.

"The results are too low and it takes too long before immigrant students reach a sufficiently high level of knowledge," Minister for Education Jan Björklund told the TT news agency in unveiling the spending proposal on Wednesday.

Since 2000, the percentage of non-European immigrant children with marks high enough for them to pursue secondary education has dropped from just over 60 percent to just over 40 percent, according to figures from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån, SCB) cited by the government.

By comparison, around 90 percent of Swedish-born pupils qualify to start secondary education programmes.

The money will be used to expand lesson times for newly immigrated students in grades 5 through 9, the final year of compulsory education in Sweden.

Some of the funds will also be used to further train teachers and principals to improve their ability to educate students with Swedish as a second language.

Around 150 million kronor will also be spend on improving Swedish language classes for immigrants in the form of grants to institutions that would allow them to offer additional classroom time or help students more easily combine the course with a job or other training programmes.

"There is a long road ahead, but this amount to a few steps in the right direction," said Björklund.

According to the minister, immigrant students' falling academic performance is in part attributable to an influx of students from Somalia and Afghanistan, both countries with education systems which have been left in tatters due to years of war.

In addition, said Björklund, immigrant children arriving in Sweden are generally older today than they were previously, meaning they enter Swedish education system at a later age and have a harder time adjusting.

Some of the new funds will also be spent on surveying the education levels of newly arrived immigrant children in order to ensure they get the support they need.

The government also plans to use some of the money to increase awareness of school choice in Sweden by providing more information in languages other than Swedish.

Also under consideration is a plan that would require immigrant students who enter the Swedish school system late to stay in school longer.

Story continues below…

"We think people should have nine years of compulsory education. If someone comes here as an 11- or 12-year-old, in reality you only get four years in school," Björklund told reported, according to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

"Therefore, extending compulsory school attendance until someone is 17 or 18 is something we're investigating now."

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

14:48 September 12, 2012 by Abe L
Considering other news the focus should be on creating and finding jobs for the existing unemployed workforce rather then extending it?
20:30 September 12, 2012 by johan rebel
Howabout first ensuring that real Swedes get a proper education? It would admitttedly help if the Sweidsh kids tried a bit harder too.
21:14 September 12, 2012 by Migga
It doesn`t matter how much money one spends if the one who should learn doesn`t want to.
21:47 September 12, 2012 by matona1
johan rebel ,who are reall swede?johan rebel please for once support your leaders ideas they know more than you do,and for your info swede is swede nothing like real swede
06:39 September 13, 2012 by frenchviking
I think it is good to do something about it...

Actually, if we are to take in people from war ravaged areas, we might as well do it properly and give them a chance as well as make sure (not give them a chance not to) that they will integrate into society and get jobs... otherwise they will always be dependent on public money, always be apart, never integrate...

Taking in refugees to help them is more than just open the border and park them into a building outside of town... there is a whole lot of work to integrate them so they can become part of the local life, culture and become productive as well rather than a long term burden on public finances.

I think it is actually very good that this government realises that and starts doing something about it.

Maybe also this will open people's eyes that you cannot take in an infinite number of people with such background with a finite amount of resources.

My point is, if we take people in, let's do it right. So let's limit the number of refugees we take in but invest more "long term" into them. So they integrate and become productive.

It is good to help, but if ry to help everyone you just get the system to collapse and you do not help anyone...
07:50 September 13, 2012 by RobinHood
I am shocked. The Local has posted a picture above of a lady who is clearly a racial stereotype of an African woman. This is outrageous racism, and we deserve an apology.
10:28 September 13, 2012 by ingvar
If Swedish government invested in stimulating birth rate in Swedish families as much money as it invests now in stimulating immigration from the undeveloped regions, it could reach it's goal sooner and with less troubles for the native population.
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