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Swedish language program unsatisfactory

Aug. 29, 2011 at 1:32 PM   |   Comments

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A government plan that offered incentives to immigrants who learn Swedish has failed to produce satisfactory results, officials in Sweden said.

Immigrants were offered up to $1,900 for learning the language in under a year, The Local reported.

The government allotted $15.9 million for the program but only $2.9 million has been used. That represented about 2,000 students who took advantage of the bonus program since it was offered last year.

"I had hoped that more would have received the bonus to allow integration," said Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag.

The program was created to make it easier for immigrants to learn the language and integrate into Swedish society, officials said.

"The only thing students want is to get a job and start a life here," instructor Annika Wall said. "As I see things, this doesn't solve any problems. Those who have difficulties and struggle for years aren't going to be helped by the smartest students getting money."

Some students saw the bonus as a motivation for a quick completion of the course.

"It was my sole motivation in finishing the course in under a year," Australian Oliver Gee told The Local. "There were some people in my classes that knew they wouldn't get the bonus and were not as efficient in learning the language, so they disregarded the money and decided to take their time."

Ullenhag acknowledged that the incentives were not enough of a motivation and that some further measures will be taken in the future.

"It is quite a new reform and we will evaluate it soon," he said. "We are trying to put out a very clear message from society that one of the most important ways to integrate into the Swedish community is to learn the language."

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