Sweden received a record 163,000 asylum requests at the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015, before the number dropped to 29,000 in 2016 and then to an eight year low of 25,666 in 2017.
The country's County Administrative Boards (Länsstyrelserna) have been tasked by the government with mapping the impact of the 2015 peak and have already done so on two occasions. The third and most recent mapping from the first quarter of 2018 shows that SFI courses are still struggling to accommodate the increased numbers, SVT reports.
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One in five municipalities in the study said the impact on the courses has been “significant”, though only six percent said it was “serious” or “critical”.
A shortage of teachers and spaces has increased the waiting time for getting a place in classes, resulting in many municipalities not meeting the requirement dictated by Swedish law that everyone should be placed in a class within a maximum of three months.
The report follows comments from Sweden's Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) last week that there are several failings in SFI courses, including a lack of competent teachers, and a failure to fully cater to different levels and educational backgrounds.
The Local asked our readers for accounts of their experiences studying SFI, and many recognized the problems highlighted.
“I hated SFI. I was there to learn, the first day I was asked to write about myself before I was even taught anything (…) I felt like the teachers I had thought I should already know Swedish without teaching me a thing,” Anna Crouch wrote.
“It was ridiculous – I had to beg for more challenging work and force my teachers to actually notice and push me through and let me take the tests to pass through the next levels. Once I made it to SAS [the more advanced Swedish as a second language course] and high-school level courses it was much better,” Eman Hussain recalled.
“SFI is so badly structured it is not funny. I was lucky enough to have one great teacher but all of the others were varying degrees of atrocious,” Kym Speer argued.
Others had a much more positive experience however. Rajko Kovačević for example said he “would recommend it to everyone”.
“As much as I don’t like a lot of things in Sweden, it would be a wrong thing to say they are not doing their job. I have a teacher from Norrland and she is just amazing. It can be better but it’s good overall,” he added.
“It worked pretty great for me. Most of the teachers were really nice and helped me a lot,” Elen Kontou said.
And Jennifer Giri noted “it was a good experience for me. I had good teachers, got new friends from different countries and all walks of life and learned the language quickly”.