Photo: Henrik Montgomery / TT
Education Minister Gustav Fridolin of the Greens. Photo: Henrik Montgomery / TT

Government wants more schools, municipalities to take responsibility for refugees

"All municipalities need to take part in these responsibilities"
0:35 min

The government is now in agreement that municipalities should be forced to take in refugees, reports Swedish Radio News, and it also wants to reduce segregation in schools.

At a press conference in Stockholm on Thursday, Labor Market Minister Ylva Johansson (Social Democrat) said that some municipalities take a lot of responsibility to accept refugees, while others do not.

So far this year, about 4,500 new arrivals have been assigned to move from state housing into various municipalities, but many refugees have chosen to find housing on their own, instead. Next year, the government estimates that nearly 22,000 new arrivals will be sent directly out to the municipalities, and that the number will then increase.

According to the new measure, refugees will be distributed according to the situation of the labor market, so that the counties and municipalities that offer the biggest chances for finding a job and getting education, for example, Stockholm and Norrbotten counties, will take in the most refugees. The new bill will now be presented to Parliament, and it is expected to go into effect on March 1. For now, it does not include any provisions to punish municipalities for refusing refugees, but that could change, reports Swedish Radio News.

At the press conference, Education Minister Gustav Fridolin (Green) also addressed the problem of segregated schools, pointing out that a fifth of schools today do not take in new arrivals to Sweden, and that just four percent of schools take in a third of newly arrived children.

Fridolin told Radio Sweden recently that within the municipalities, "we need to make sure that not just a few schools do the job" of educating refugee children.

This problem has been echoed by Anna Ekström, the director general of the Swedish National Agency for Education, who told Swedish Radio News, "We want to have a society in which children know each other and play with each other, become good friends and build the future society together, and therefore, I would be concerned if we had a development in which the newly arrived children wind up in schools where they don't get to know children who have been in Sweden for a long time."

At the press conference, the Education Minister appointed Ebba Östlin, the social democratic municipal commissioner of Botkyrka, to lead a speedy investigation into how to solve this - how municipalities can ensure newly arrived students's right to education.

For example, Östlin has been asked to look into how placing students in schools other than the one closest to where they live could promote a more even distribution of newly arrived students and improve the conditions for getting them established in Sweden.

The report is due on January 18th, and Fridolin hopes to have changes in place by the fall of 2016.

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