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Government to scrap Swedish language bonus

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Government to scrap Swedish language bonus
14:05 CEST+02:00
The government plans to abolish the incentive scheme awarded to foreigners learning Swedish, as the 100 million kronor ($15.3 million) per year project has yielded poor results since it was introduced four years ago.

It was given the go-ahead in 2009, where students could earn up to 12,000 kronor ($1,900) if they completed their SFI - Swedish for immigrants (svenska för invandrare) studies within a year.

By 2011 only 18.5 million kronor of the budget had been spent and the scheme is now set to be shelved altogether.

"We have evaluated it through the institute for the labour market and the education policy appraisal which show that it has a limited effect," Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag told the TT news agency.

When the bonus scheme was launched four years ago it was in response to a damning report which slated the state quality control agency.

"Too few people completed the studies," added Ullenhag.

"I had hoped that more would have received the bonus to allow integration," he told The Local in 2011 when it was revealed only a fifth of the government's money had been spent on the scheme.

The reform was put in place to encourage a more efficient way of learning Swedish and to make integration into Swedish society easier, though critics have long expressed doubts as to whether or not motivation is the problem.

Response to the government scrapping the bonus has been doing the rounds on Twitter with many supporting the move saying it will improve the standard overall.

"It can only improve the quality of SFI classes, because everyone enrolled will be there because they *want* to learn," tweeted @shazzer.

Another twitter user, @sthlm_tokyo, was more neutral saying: "The bonus is to encourage lazy people, but in fact only committed students get the bonus, like receiving a windfall."

"I learned SFI and got the bonus. Before I came to Swe I heard a lot of bad reputations about SFI but my SFI was really good!" she added.

While @sierram added "Learning for the money... You probably know how it works."

SFI classes are available free of charge for immigrants who move to Sweden with the money being provided by the local municipality where the student lives.

Anybody who is currently on an SFI class can still claim the bonus as it is not due to expire until mid 2014.

TT/The Local/pr

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