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Photo: Golli. Students at Reykjavík junior college MR.

Coordinate Support for Foreign Students Across Iceland

Iceland’s new Directorate of Education and School Services will consolidate the reception of children of foreign origin into Iceland’s school systems on a national level, RÚV reports. Its director says there is no need to reinvent the wheel at each school when it comes to supporting foreign students. The Directorate will also implement Icelandic and maths competency testing to replace current standardised tests.

New database and student assessments

The Directorate is a new institution that began operations on April 1. It aims to promote excellent education for all children in Iceland through strong support and targeted services for preschools, primary schools, and secondary schools across the country.

Some of the Directorate’s first projects include creating a database of all students in the country’s primary schools to keep track of which schools students have attended and which services they have used. The Directorate will also institute a new assessment to better evaluate children’s reading comprehension and maths skills, replacing current standardised tests. “This way we get a better picture of how the children are doing, both their status and their progress,” stated Þórdís Jóna Sigurðardóttir, the new institution’s director.

Built on previous success

Þórdís stated that the Directorate will also introduce a project called Menntun, móttaka, menning (Education, Reception, Culture), or MEMM, which will coordinate the reception and education of children of foreign origin on a national level. “It is based on a project that the City of Reykjavík has run called Miðja máls og læsis [The Centre for Language and Literacy],” Þórdís explains. That project is now under the umbrella of the Directorate of Education and School Services and will coordinate the reception of foreign students across the entire country.

Þórdís says it is important to build on what has been done well in the system in order to welcome children from different backgrounds as well as possible. “Whether they are refugee children or children who are moving to the country for other reasons. That it’s not being thought up individually in each and every school or by each and every teacher, but that they can turn to professionals.” The program will provide support both to municipalities and to individual schools.

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