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Sweden to keep immigrant kids in school

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Sweden to keep immigrant kids in school
11:57 CET+01:00
The government wants to make sure young immigrants keep up their studies by legally requiring them to stay in school until they reach 18, while also pumping funds into Swedish-language courses.

Education and Integration Ministers Jan Björklund and Erik Ullenhag proposed on Thursday that children who are older than twelve when they arrive in Sweden should have to keep studying until they are 18.

At present, Swedish children are bound by law to go to school until the year they turn 16, in practice finishing compulsory education. Attending high school is optional.

Björklund first hinted at lengthening compulsory schooling for newly-arrived children last autumn, as the government presented its annual budget.

At the time, he said that foreign-born children's academic performance had deteriorated in recent years, partly due to the surge of underage asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Somalia, whose education levels had suffered due to years of wars.

In addition, immigrant children were generally older than their Swedish-born peers when they enrolled in school in Sweden.

A proposed 30 million kronor ($4.7 million) per year would add three more hours of Swedish-language instruction per week for the first four terms that the children are enrolled in school.

The proposal also called for newly arrived children to start studying as soon as possible, rather than languishing in orientation courses that can stretch up to one year.

Björklund estimated that the changes would affect around 3,000 students in every grade.

TT/The Local/dl

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