Authors:Anna Katarzyna Wozniczka and Per-Åke Rosvall
Through a cross-national analysis of Iceland and Sweden, we investigate How are the two countries’ national and local educational systems ensuring access to education and social inclusion of immigrants and refugees? How do immigrant and refugee students talk about their agency in their classrooms, schools, and peer communities in rural contexts? Our analysis builds on fieldwork including classroom observations and interviews with immigrants (Iceland) and refugees (Sweden) aged 12–16 years, their teachers, and school principals, in four compulsory schools. The concept of ecology of equity is used to investigate power relations with regard to place and agency. The analysis also includes investigation of the politics of the teaching profession in response to students’ diversity. Findings show that although some students describe that they do not feel “othered,” the majority, especially refugee students in Sweden, do feel excluded from their peers. The Icelandic and Swedish rural schools are on their own in tackling issues of working with these students, despite the fact that their practices may lead to reinforcing inequalities between schools and regions of the two countries. In this sense, the approach of the two countries does not reflect the ideals of the Nordic welfare system.