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Newly arrived migrant children in the Swedish school-system: Challenges and Opportunities in a Nordic Welfare State
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4008-0749
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5192-6327
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages.
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0127-0999
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2022 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Sweden has experienced waves of migration into the country since the end of the WWII. Pull-factors for migration were opportunities to get a job in the industries right after the war as Sweden was not much effected, but also due to the world’s conflicts, effects from the climate change and a desire to live a better life.In recent years, there has been a larger increase in the number of foreign-born. In 2020, just over 2 million people were born abroad, which is 19.7 percent of the population in Sweden. The most common country of birth for foreign-born is currently Syria, followed by Iraq. Finland was for many years the most common country of birth, but is today the third most common country, followed by Poland and Iran. The migration from the African Horn is also quite extensive, where Somalis are the largest group from Africa in Sweden (in 2018 there were more than 100 000 Somali people living in the country). Since the start of the new millennium, Sweden has experienced an intense debate over migration and several new laws have been passed in order to restrict migration. This is also the case in several other European countries. However, Sweden used to be described as one of the Nordic welfare states and have enjoyed an international reputation for combining generous welfare state entitlements with rapid economic growth, low unemployment and very high levels of labor force participation, particularly among women. This welfare model, characterized by generous, non-tested benefits, a strong element of redistribution in the systems and thus high taxes, was developed after the WWII, but had ideological roots in the labor movement back from the late 1800s. One example of the welfare model is that Sweden offers free education from age 6 to19 and also free school lunches. Over the last twenty years the welfare model has been challenged due to globalization and migration and an increase in international financial competition which also have affected education with reduced resources. However, a large body of research show that education plays a significant role in the health and wellbeing as well as for integration in the “new society”, and education is pointed out as one of the most important institutions for newly arrived migrant children. This paper builds on research investigating reception strategies and inclusion for newly arrived children in schools in two municipalities in Sweden, as well as the migrant students own reflections on these issues. The research was carried out over the years 2016-2018.

Methods: The empirical for the study consisted of two parts. The first part built on interviews with educational leaders at primary schools and staff at reception units in the two municipalities, partly through questionnaires (N=39) with supplementary telephone interviews to the principals (N=24). The second part explored the newly arrived migrant students’ reception and conditions for learning and social inclusion out from their perspective. This part of the study is based on ethnographic work from eight school units with different conditions and way of organizing teaching for newly arrived migrant children.

Results: The study showed that there are currently established guidelines and organization for the assessment and reception of newly arrived students in Sweden, however in practice various known and applied. Among the eight school units included in the study were schools with long experience of receiving newly arrived students, and teaching students with different cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds, but also schools that can be described as ‘monocultural’, whose experience of receiving newly arrived students were very limited. The differences between schools in student composition reflects a school segregation that is linked to housing segregation and strengthened by the free choice of school introduced in the beginning of the 1990s’. The study describes how newly arrived students' everyday lives and conditions for learning and inclusion emerge in the diverse environments and how different structural and organizational conditions have consequences for students' learning and social inclusion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. p. 38-39
Keywords [en]
Migration, Sweden, free education, newly arrived, learning, social inclusion
National Category
Educational Sciences Human Geography
Research subject
Child and Youth studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-18585OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-18585DiVA, id: diva2:1673706
Conference
First Joint International Conference on Education in Emergencies in East Africa : Implication for Sustainable Development; Addis Ababa University, 26. -28. May 2022; Book of Abstracts
Available from: 2022-06-21 Created: 2022-06-21 Last updated: 2022-06-21Bibliographically approved

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von Brömssen, KerstinFlensner, Karin KGregorc Lööv, HelenaKorp, HelenaRisenfors, Signild

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