Destinations Magazine

Learning the Hard Way

By Stizzard
Learning the hard way That’s an ä not an å

AFTER Aida Hadzialic’s parents fled war-torn Bosnia for Sweden in the early 1990s, they put their five-year-old daughter in a school full of native Swedes and made sure she studied hard to get ahead. It worked. Today Ms Hadzialic, 27, is Sweden’s minister for upper secondary education. Like her counterparts across Europe, she faces a new challenge: ensuring that a fresh wave of refugee children can integrate as successfully as she did.

Even before this year’s surge, western Europe had lots of immigrant students. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the proportion of 15-year-old schoolchildren in Spain who are foreign-born rose from 3% to 8% from 2003 to 2012 (though in Germany it fell by about the same amount). The new wave of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere has redoubled the strains on school systems.

In the countries accepting the most refugees—Sweden and Germany—lack of space is not a problem. Before the migrant surge, both countries faced declining numbers of pupils because of low birth rates. In Sweden the number of…

The Economist: Europe

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