SHARE
COPY LINK

EDUCATION

This Iranian teaches Swedish online to 10,000 followers

Seyed Javad Sirmin hasn't yet received his asylum decision, but he has already embarked on the path towards integration in Sweden. Not only that, but he's also trying to help others integrate, by teaching them Swedish via social media.

This Iranian teaches Swedish online to 10,000 followers

Around ten thousand Persian-speakers follow his daily Swedish lessons, which are popular in his homeland, Iran.  

It all started eight months ago when Sirmin set up a Swedish language account on Telegram, a social media platform popular among Iranians, to share what he’s been learning with other Persian-speaking asylum seekers.

“In February 2016 I started learning Swedish. I was living in an asylum camp in Tanum municipality to the west of Sweden, along with around 160 other asylum seekers. I spent eight hours learning Swedish each day, and started sharing my lessons with the others.” 

“My language improved as much as theirs did through sharing the lessons, so I decided to expand to a larger audience of refugees and newcomers. I chose to make a public Telegram account because it's such a well known app among Iranians.”

The number of followers rose dramatically as it became clear there was a real need for simple, online Swedish lessons aimed at Persian-speakers.

Sirmin says it's impossible to find a Swedish textbook for Persian speakers, which makes it much harder for Iranians to study the language. 

“Most of the language resources are either in Swedish or English, and maybe Arabic – but there's nothing in Persian.”

“Many Iranians may not have higher education, and others may not speak good English either, which makes it harder for them learning the language. What I’m doing is helping to fill this gap,” says Sirmin.

The fervent language learner spends five hours a day preparing two lessons to be posted on his account – even holidays don’t put a stop to his zeal.

“Now people are waiting for my lessons every day,” Sirmin says. 

“I also receive more than 400 messages a day; people really appreciate the service I'm offering.

“Some followers don’t believe that it’s only me running the account, and insist that I’m either a Swede or there’s an institution behind me.” He continues with laughter: “Others complain about inefficiency in SFI (the government-provided Swedish for Immigrants courses) as well.”

Sirmin has recently started publishing culture lessons on his Telegram account as well. He posts Swedish songs with lyrics, as well as audio recordings of him speaking Swedish.

His influence has grown in Iran, and three private language schools accredit his lessons now for their Swedish classes.

“Three institutions are currently using my channel in Iran, because I believe, there are no Swedish language resources there. So, I am exporting Swedish to my homeland.”

“Nonetheless, 93 percent of my followers are in Sweden.”

One of the things Sirmin most appreciates about life in Sweden is the freedom to be able to express himself.

Back in Iran he says he had a good life except for the lack freedom of expression; he had to use a pseudonym for his anti-government blogs and social media posts.

“Regular media don’t discuss critical topics about freedom and citizenship in Iran, therefore people turn to social media. I wrote critically about Ahmadi Najad and his government, and the others who followed him. But in 2014 my identity was uncovered. I fled,” Sirmin explains.

“I knew that criticism wasn't allowed, but I felt like I had a responsibility to speak out. How will society become illuminated and be able talk about human rights and freedom of expression if everyone is afraid and silent?’” 

“My appreciation of Sweden, and of the chance to be a free human being here, is beyond words.”

 

EDUCATION

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

Sweden's Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) chain has been denied permission to open four new schools in Gothenburg, Huddinge, Norrtälje, and Upplands-Bro, after the schools inspectorate said it had not provided pupil data.

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has denied permission to the chain to open a new planned new school in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm, even though the building that will house it is already half built. The inspectorate has also denied permission to three other schools which the chain had applied to start in 2023. 

In all four cases, the applications have been rejected because the school did not submit the required independent assessment for how many pupils the schools were likely to have. 

Jörgen Stenquist, IES’s deputy chief executive, said that IES has not in the past had to submit this data, as it has always been able to point to the queues of pupils seeking admissions to the school. 

“The fact that Engelska Skolan, as opposed to our competition, has never had the need to hire external companies to do a direct pupil survey is because we have had so many in line,” he told DN.

“In the past, it has been enough that we reported a large queue in the local area. But if the School Inspectorate wants us to conduct targeted surveys and ask parents directly if they want their children to start at our new schools, then maybe we have to start doing that.”

READ ALSO: 

According to the newspaper, when the inspectorate had in the past asked for pupil predictions, the chain has refused, stating simply “we do not make student forecasts”, which the inspectorate has then accepted. 

However, in this year’s application round, when IES wrote: “We do not carry out traditional interest surveys as we simply have not had a need for this,” the inspectorate treated it as grounds to reject its applications. 

According to DN, other school chain have been complaining to the inspectorate that IES gets favourable treatment and was excused some requirements other chains have to fulfil. 

Liselotte Fredzell, from the inspectorate’s permitting unit, confirmed that the inspectorate was trying to be more even handed. 

“Yes, it is true that we are now striving for a more equal examination of applications. Things may have been getting too slack, and we needed to tighten up.” 

SHOW COMMENTS