‘Tailor Swedish classes to newcomers’ needs’

With one in four Swedish language students dropping out of the state-run classes, three Liberal Party ministers argued on Thursday that the system is not helping newcomers integrate and needs a work-focused overhaul.

'Tailor Swedish classes to newcomers' needs'

“Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) doesn’t work well and should be fundamentally changed,” wrote Education Minister Jan Björklund, Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag, and the new Equality Minister Maria Arnholm in an opinion piece published by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN) on Thursday.

“We have to focus more on individual needs and make clearer the connection to employment.”

With a quarter of enrolled students dropping out before their course has finished, and inconsistent teaching quality nationwide, the politicians want the classes to tie in with the Swedish Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen).

They suggest newly-arrived immigrants could pick up the Swedish language much faster in the work place rather than in the classroom.

In 2011, over 100,000 students took SFI classes and more than 40,000 studied at municipal adult education programmes (Komvux). Many of these students are highly educated, while others are illiterate.

To combat these students’ problems with finding work after SFI, the ministers proposed three steps to improve the integration process.

Firstly, they argued that SFI should have a clear connection to work or internship opportunities. They proposed newcomers meet at an early stage with Arbetsförmedlingen staff to discuss finding work.

Secondly, the ministers proposed more flexibility in teaching based on individual students’ needs and capabilities. Tailoring courses to fit what job the student will be looking for could also be helpful, they suggested.

Thirdly, they proposed that the Swedish language system be harmonized nationwide.

They said an inquiry would determine whether to abolish the SFI system, and instead transfer all language courses to Komvux.

“Knowledge of Swedish is essential… Unfortunately, too many people who’ve come to Sweden have poor language skills mainly because SFI hasn’t worked well enough,” they wrote.

TT/The Local/og

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime