“The teachers are really frustrated as they see that mother tongue tutoring is really needed,” Eva-Lis Sirén, chair of the Swedish Teachers’ Union (Lärarförbundet) told the Metro newspaper.
A recent survey of 519 primary and secondary school teachers in Sweden revealed that nearly 60 percent of teachers have students they feel need extra help in their mother tongue.
However, only one in ten of these teachers feel their students get enough tutoring in their first language.
Teachers are concerned that competent immigrant children will end up performing poorly in school simply because they aren’t able to grasp what they’re being taught in Swedish.
“It’s easier for children to develop because they feel more secure in their own language and can use all the knowledge they already have,” language tutor Harriet Thernell told Metro.
Students who are unable to fully understand instructions spoken in Sweden may also lose interest in school, having a negative impact on their academic performance.
Sweden’s school act clearly states that “a student should get tutoring in his or her mother tongue, if the student needs it”.
But principals at many schools claim budget constraints restrict them from expanding mother tongue tutoring.
According to Sirén of the teachers’ union, however, the problem lies with politicians who simply say “there isn’t any money”.
“They simply don’t take the issue seriously enough,” she told the paper.