U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

5. Costs: What does it cost in terms of money, time and government resources to police the country’s language restrictions?

According to the fact sheet published by the Ministry of Culture in June 1999, the government calculated SEK 10 million per year from 2000, as a response to the minority policy. The amount is expected to be allocated as follows: SEK 6 million to the municipalities and county council; SEK 1 million to the courts; SEK 1 million to strengthen the state cultural subsidy and SEK 2 million for measures concerning the national minorities’ influence and for follow-up measures.

Updated (May 2001)


The Sami minority in Sweden numbers about 20,000. The Ministry of Agriculture allocated 6 million Swedish kronor (658,000 EURO) to finance the Project aimed at disseminating information about Sami. The project will last five years and around 60 million Swedish kronor will be needed altogether to achieve the results.

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Updated (June 2003)


The Swedish government and the Sámi Parliament are together trying to change the attitudes of Swedes towards the Sámi in the northern part of the country with a project worth of millions kroner (SEK). According to the Executive Director of the Sámi Parliament, Mr Lars Nila Lasko, racism and discrimination problem has been known for years, but very little has been done to improve the situation.

In 1998, the Swedish Discrimination Ombudsman prepared a study according to which 75 percent of Sámi people felt that the majority is more or less hostile to them. Almost 50 percent felt that this hostility is even growing.

Racism and discrimination against the Sámi has always been difficult to prove since the study also shows that the Sámi do not trust the local authorities. It means that only a tiny proportion of the racial incidents and crimes are reported and documented.

The Swedish government has decided to invest SEK 3,000,000 (about €320,000) over the next three years to set up the Sámi Information Center that will educate and inform the majority population about Sámi culture and history in the inner parts of Norrland. The Center must start from scratch because up until now the state policy failed to teach about Sámi issues.

Source: Eurolang News, Uppsala, June 24, 2003, by Johanna Parikka-Altenstedt,

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Updated (September 2006)


The Swedish Government has cooperated with Roma organizations in organized forms since 1996.

In October 2002, this cooperation was taken one step further by the establishment of the Council on Roma Issues as an advisory body to the Government. The Council has a broad representation from the Roma community, both women and men, representing all larger Roma groups in Sweden. The majority of members are Roma, but it also includes representatives of the National Integration Office, the Office of the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities.

The main responsibility of the Council is to be proactive in national efforts to promote the situation of Roma in Swedish society. It should take initiatives in line with the fact that the Roma are a national minority and that Romany Chib has been recognized as a minority language. A children’s perspective, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, should permeate the work of the Council, as should a gender equality perspective with the aim of offering equal conditions and opportunities to Roma women and men. Another aim should be to take advantage of the resources represented in the Roma population and to bring these to the fore.

Source: Sweden’s Roma – A National Minority, Fact Sheet of the Ministry of Justice, Sweden, June 2003 http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2188/a/19444

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Updated (September 2007)


For the next year, the Swedish Government has decided to temporarily raise financial support for its language minorities by 10 million Swedish kronor (over 1 million Euro) from last year’s figures.

The first four million will go to improve the conditions of the Roma minority the following year and the year after that. According to the Government, the amount should at least be used on various provincial projects as well as on communication. The remaining six million will be used for the university teaching of Yiddish and Romani.

The amount allocated to the Finnish minority will stay the same as last year – 10 million will go to organizations representing minorities and covering the administrative costs of minority languages. The support of culture will receive 8 million.

A new addition to the budget is that the financial support for minority organizations, such as the Sweden Finnish delegation, will be overseen by the Parliament’s Youth Committee (Ungdomsstyrelsen) instead of a governmental body. For this purpose, the Youth Committee will receive a 4 million allowance.

Furthermore, the Government aims to develop appropriate educational materials for the national minorities; however, no specific amount has been allocated for it.

The Swedish Government also plans to expand the right of students from the national minorities to receive teaching in their mother tongue. Any student belonging to a national minority will no longer be asked if the minority language is the students’ daily language at home in order to receive language teaching in their mother tongue.

There will no longer be demands for group size either. In the future, education in Yiddish or Finnish must be provided, even if only one student asks for it. There is, however, no amount set aside for this purpose in the budget, but the Government promises to get back to this issue as soon as the motion for the abolition of the language demand criteria is ready.

Sweden’s Minister for Integration and Gender Equality, Nyamko Sabuni, has ordered a report on Mäenkieli (Tornedalian Finnish). The Research Institute of Language and Folklore will prepare a report of the status of the Meänkieli minority in Sweden. The aim of the study is to map out the prerequisites for preserving and developing their language. According to Sabuni, in order for the government to prepare its minority policy, it is necessary to acquire an accurate view of the status of Meänkieli today.

According to the Minister of Education, Jan Björklundin, the new rules will be in place by next autumn.

Source: Eurolang News, September 24, 2007 by Katriina Kilpi http://www.eurolang.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2956&Itemid=1&lang=en

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