Press release - DC064(2017)

Minority language education unsatisfactory in Sweden, but progress made through legal framework

Strasbourg, 11.05.2017 - Improvements have been made through the legal framework to promote the five national minority languages in Sweden: Sami, Finnish, Meänkieli, Romani Chib and Yiddish. The number of municipalities belonging to the administrative areas of Sami, Finnish and Meänkieli has increased. However, according to a report released today by the Committee of experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the intermediate halt in the extension of the administrative areas is hindering the implementation of the Charter on the whole.

The situation of minority languages in education remains unsatisfactory. The offer of one lesson per week is considered insufficient for the needs and demands of the speakers, as well as for the development of a mature literacy and the survival of the minority languages. No teacher education exists for pre-schools, school years 1 to 6 in primary school or for bilingual education. A structured policy in education, teacher training and additional teaching materials is needed to ensure the protection of all minority languages.

With regard to the judiciary and administrative authorities, there are online translations of relevant materials and documents. There is a gap developing between the obligations of the authorities and the need to provide interpreters and translators in the minority languages. The authorities need to take proactive measures to bridge this gap. As regards the display and public use of place names in Sami, Finnish and Meänkieli, positive advances have been noted in this monitoring cycle.

Problems persist in the field of media. Radio and television broadcasting in Sami and Finnish is by and large satisfactory, but Meänkieli is facing shortcomings in television. Romani and Yiddish are largely invisible in the media, notably on television.

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is the European convention for the protection and promotion of languages used by traditional minorities. Sweden ratified it in 1997 and it entered into force 2000.

Contact : Päivi Suhonen, Communications Officer, Tel. +33 3 90 21 53 70

Council of Europe Directorate of Communications
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11