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Compensating for Conflicting Policy Goals: Dilemmas of Teachers’ Work With Asylum-Seeking Pupils in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Malin Svensson
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research
Volume 63
Issue 1
Pages 1-16
ISSN 0031-3831
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 1-16
Language en
Keywords Asylum-seeking children, education, street-level bureaucracy, teachers
Subject categories Human Geography, Ethnography, Educational Sciences


© 2017 Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research This article examines challenges experienced by teachers of asylum-seeking pupils in Sweden, where the right to education is part of a policy of promoting “normal life” during the asylum process. A theoretical framework contributed a deepened understanding of the teachers’ experiences as street-level bureaucrats. Interviews indicated that institutional factors, lack of training, and insufficient support within the educational system constrained the teachers’ work. They developed strategies for dealing with the dilemma of being impeded in providing education equivalent to that of resident pupils but still struggled with how the asylum process affected classroom work. They were sidelined by a lack of control over the asylum decision, processed outside school. This was a source of moral distress and an additional workload, as catering to asylum-seekers’ needs was left to their discretion. Conflicting goals of educational and immigration policy thus conditioned their work and risked undermining the compensatory pedagogical task.

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