Swedish from day one with study circles

Tue 27 Sep 2016 04:18:00 PM EEST

EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2016. Refugees need a dignified reception in their new countries, one that goes beyond immediate humanitarian help. With this in mind, EAEA member the Swedish Adult Education Association, Studieförbunden, developed Swedish from day one, a project involving their ten study associations.

The article series shares good practices by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2016.

A sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers in Sweden requires a comprehensive response, and the role of adult education organisations in offering it should not be underestimated. In August 2015, ten study associations of the Swedish Adult Education Association (SAEA) launched activities on a broad scale focusing on language and social studies for asylum seekers.

“We have what is needed: good methods, materials, competent personnel and good leaders,” explains Kerstin Enlund, president of the association Studieförbundet Bilda.

“And there is a lot of passion and devotion among the study associations.”

A sense of community

Led by employees and non-profit bodies, the circles invited refugees to participate in language cafés, grammar sessions and conversational practice, but also more informal activities, such as cooking, handicraft and excursions around the local area. SAEA makes their rationale clear: it was necessary to put emphasis on not only learning Swedish, but also on developing new relationships and social structures.

“In addition to urgent needs like food and housing, there is a fast need of context among asylum seekers, of replacing uncertainty with a sense of community and safety,” says David Samuelsson, the Secretary General of SAEA.

“New contacts and new knowledge become decisive for how your situation develops.”

Supported by the Swedish government, the initiative achieved remarkable success: between August and December 2015, no fewer than 73,500 asylum seekers took part in the programme. The activities continue in 2016, and continue to highlight the role of informal learning in the integration of asylum seekers.

The project: Swedish from day one

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Text: Aleksandra Kozyra
Photos: Swedish from day one project