Sweden grants undocumented children access to school

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 15:50 EDT
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Three immigrant children look through a window at a daycare in the town of Soedertaelje, south of Stockholm in 2008. (AFP)
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Undocumented children in Sweden will be allowed to go to school as of July 1 next year, the Swedish government announced on Wednesday after striking a deal with the opposition Green Party.

“Children without a residency permit will have the right to education” from kindergarten to secondary school, it said in a statement.

Sweden’s use of personal identity numbers has essentially barred children of illegal immigrants from public education, and schools have been required to contact police if registration requests were made for an undocumented child.

The new law scraps that requirement, but schooling will still not be mandatory for children of illegal immigrants.

“All children have the right to go to school … and their right (to do so) will become legal,” Education Minister Jan Bjoerklund said at a press conference.

For undocumented children, going to school “means being normal, (it brings) stability, routines to an often precarious existence,” said the Green Party’s spokeswoman on immigration, Maria Ferm.

The government will provide an annual budget of 50 million kronor (5.7 million euros or $7.4 million) starting in 2014, to help the municipalities where the children go to school. Half the annual amount has been set aside for next year.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 children will be affected by the new law, according to Bjoerklund.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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