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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

Last update: 4 April 2022

This chapter looks at how the societal infrastructure in Iceland facilitates social inclusion for young people. The main characteristic of the top-level authority on social inclusion is that a single, comprehensive bill on social inclusion does not exist, but the issue is rather dispersed among different legal bills in different categories. The main actors in social inclusion are various NGOs, which offer consultation and youth programs.

One of the great challenges of social inclusion is to assist the adaptation of immigrants who settle in Iceland, especially those who come from vastly different cultural backgrounds. The number of foreign citizens who move to Iceland has doubled in the last decade (if the years 2010 and 2020 are compared) and since 2016 the yearly figures have been similar to the numbers in the years leading up to the economic recession in 2008. There are a lot of issues to consider when helping immigrants adapt to society and some of them apply specifically to young people, most notably the education system. The language barrier is one of the most important issues to address because it alone can restrict or advance young people's opportunities in a new country. Icelandic is the national language in Iceland and also the official language used in teaching at all school levels (although English becomes more common in higher education than on other school levels). An analysis report on PISA data published by the Directorate of Education in 2018 showed that reading comprehension among immigrant students was deteriorating significantly faster than their Icelandic peers, the national authority assigned the Directorate of Education the task of writing a new chapter to the existing national curriculum specifically addressing students with Icelandic as a second language. The overall aim of this chapter is to have a more cohesive approach to the education of this student group, with the goal of providing them with the tools to become fluent in the national language and maximize their potential in Icelandic society.