Immigrant teachers getting help to start work in Swedish classrooms

3:56 min

About 10 newcomers to Stockholm have now earned their teaching licenses through a special city-run project called "From newly arrived teacher to newly employed teacher" (Från nyanländ till nyanställd lärare), and many teachers-to-be are still in the pipeline.

Claudia Obando, who participated in the program, moved to Sweden from Colombia two years ago and has more than 20 years of experience teaching in her native country. Now that she has earned the Swedish language credentials that are required in order for her to be able to teach here, she has applied for her teaching license, and in the meantime has received a job offer to teach English and Spanish at a private school next term.

"That was really, really, really, really exciting," Obando tells Radio Sweden, about how she felt when she learned she got the job.

Sweden needs teachers. Over the coming five years at least, the capital alone needs about 1,700 new teachers per year, Christina Rydén, who works at Stockholm's Education Department and who manages the project, tells Radio Sweden.

The project helps newcomers, including immigrants and asylum seekers who have already been trained as teachers, by giving them a network and assisting them to get internships, among other things. It can be a long process. The time it takes for these people to get a teacher's license varies depending on the individual, but it takes a minimum of a year and a half, says Rydén. One thing that takes time is getting up to speed with the Swedish language.

Since its inception in 2016, the project has worked with about 150 people from about 30 countries, from places in the Middle East to Europe and from Asia to Latin America. Next month, about 60 participants will have received their Swedish language credentials. While the project itself ends at the close of this year, Rydén says that the Education Department has decided to continue this kind of work.