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“Betwixt and Between”:

Hope and the meaning of school for asylum-seeking children in Sweden

Malin Svensson and Marita Eastmond

Abstract

This study explores the sense of possibility as perceived by asylum-seeking children in Sweden in relation to education. An ethnographic approach brought out children’s own perspectives and motivations, and the hopes they pinned to attending school. It was found that the meaning of school related to children’s need of structure, a sense of belonging and a learning environment. However, their hopefulness was conditioned by their uncertain status as asylum seekers, worrying about being deported. This legal and emotional vulnerability and the limited attention of schools to their predicament risked undermining the benefits of their right to education.