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Swedish Taxpayers Riled by Free Driving Lessons in Arabic for Migrant Women

© AP Photo / Amel EmricA Muslim woman talks with a friend during events to observe World Hijab Day, celebrating the veil traditionally worn by Muslim women
A Muslim woman talks with a friend during events to observe World Hijab Day, celebrating the veil traditionally worn by Muslim women - Sputnik International
The very same municipality in southern Sweden has launched an austerity programme in a bid to save millions of kronor and even chose to close down several elder care facilities.

Oskarshamn Municipality in Kalmar County will give immigrant women free driving and theory lessons to make it easier for them to enter the labour market.

As part of the “Here we go” project, the lessons are given in Arabic and are geared specifically toward women from the Middle East, national broadcaster SVT reported.

The women will also learn how the Swedish labour market works. For this purpose, the municipality has been granted SEK 378,000 ($38,000) from the county administrative board to be able to pay for driving licenses for immigrant women.

“What we have seen is that the newly arrived women are farther from obtaining a driving license and entering the labour market. Therefore, it feels extra important to help this group”, Pamela Campusano, labour market supervisor at Oskarshamn Municipality, told SVT.

According to her, the project has “exceeded expectations”. She described the group as “committed, motivated, and really taking responsibility for acquiring the knowledge”.

This past autumn, the very same Oskarshamn Municipality announced that three homes for the elderly will be closed down as part of an effort to save a total of SEK 50 million ($5.4 million). Over the next two years, another SEK 30 million ($3.2 million) will be saved, SVT reported.

The Swedish Transport Administration is also working to accommodate the needs of new arrivals. In May, an Arabic-language information campaign was started about obtaining a driving license in Sweden. The mini-series sparked negative reactions, as the participants complained about the Swedish weather and used what is widely perceived as a slur for Swedes.

Against the backdrop of austerity measures, the free driving lessons sparked outrage among the Swedish public.

“Is it really Sweden's responsibility to educate women from the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic and for free? To prioritise this while Swedish pensioners are starving?” journalist Katerina Janouch tweeted.
​“This is sickeningly provocative. As a Swede and taxpayer, you have to pay for it yourself, while the new arrivals receive a confirmation that they chose the right country to migrate to, the benefits really rain over them”, blogger MickeK tweeted.
​“Why should immigrants get free driver's education in Arabic? It feels completely absurd to me that they are spending money on this – at the same time as three elderly homes are being closed down in the municipality. We must have higher expectations of those who come here. Learn the language – take the course in Swedish”, another user said.
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