File photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT
The report, carried out by OECD at the request of the Swedish government, suggested that Sweden’s integration efforts have strained under the weight of the large number of migrants who have entered the country in recent years.
“Within OECD countries, Sweden has historically welcomed large numbers of migrants, in particular migrants seeking humanitarian protection,” the report reads. “Since 2015, this large influx of new arrivals with multiple disadvantages has put a well-developed integration system under great pressure.”
The study notes that 61 percent of first-generation immigrant students do “not attain baseline academic proficiency”. The number decreases to 43 percent for second-generation immigrant students and that 19 percent differential is well above the OECD average of 11 percents.
The report gave 20 recommendations for how Sweden can improve the situation, including taking steps to counteract the negative impact that the free choice of schools can have on integration. The group suggests giving the children of immigrants more opportunities to choose the school they want to attend, as well as introducing special quotas for socio-economically disadvantaged students, issuing grants for these students and incentivizing independent schools to take on new pupils.
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The OECD also suggested that Swedish authorities examine how other countries tackle the problems of integration, pointing to countries like Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States as good examples.
The report also emphasized the importance of including multicultural awareness in the curriculum of schools across Sweden, so that students are exposed to “positive messages” regardless of their origins, according to a government press release.
“The OECD has done a thorough job on this report. It’s good to be assured that we are on the right track. At the same time, the OECD has confirmed my view that Sweden should do more to mix students from different backgrounds,” Education Minister Anna Ekström said in the press release.
Among other suggestions are hiring more teachers, increasing educators’ salaries and incentivizing teachers to take jobs at the schools that need the most help. The 146-page report can be found here.