An increasing number of the students at the Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) courses are illiterates according to the public radio broadcaster SR International. Compared with 2006, the number of students with only one or two years of elementary school has doubled. However, according to SR International, the SFI courses are not adapted to this new reality.
One example is an SFI-course in Tensta, northwest Stockholm, where one out of four students has small or none school experience. Most of them are women and they have big difficulties to manage in everyday life.
“They cannot take care of their children in Sweden because of their lack of Swedish. They also don’t know how the preschool works. They lose their role as parents, and they lose themselves. They lose their sense of human value as they don’t have any role in society”, says Kiia Ojala, SFI-teacher in Tensta to SR.
One example is 26 year old Khadra Adow, from Somalia. She attends school for the first time in her life in Tensta where she attends the SFI-course. There she has learned how to read and write a little, but only in Swedish.
“I have not done any writing before and now I write and read a little in Swedish. I could not write before, but now I write and read in Swedish. But I cannot write in Somali”, says Khadra Adow to SR.
Khadra attends a small class with eight students and with an interpreter. This is a time-limited EU-project which ends in August. The ordinary SFI-classes are often bigger (20-30 students) and the teaching level is not individually adapted. Furthermore, many of the teachers lack experience in teaching illiterates.
This is one reason why only around a third of the students pass the basic -level SFI-courses. These courses have often been criticized in reports from the school inspection.
Swedish For Immigrants (normally known as SFI or Svenskundervisning för invandrare in Swedish) is the national free of charge Swedish language course offered to most categories of immigrants. All (except Danes and Norwegians) who have emigrated to Sweden are entitled by law to free Swedish language education.
SFI is directed towards people who lack basic knowledge in Swedish and are of the minimum age of sixteen. The training is paid for by the municipality (local authority) in which the immigrant lives, and applications to take the course are made to the municipality's adult education department (kommunens vuxenutbildning). The SFI test is equivalent to stage B1 (Independent Speaker: Threshold or pre-intermediate) on the Common European Framework. (Source: Wikipedia)