Swedish national minority policy and educational language policy for these groups, have progressed in legal terms during the last 20 years, largely due to the ratification of two international conventions of  the Council of Europe by Sweden in 2000. This is in stark contrast with earlier phases, since the preceding periods have faced a development characterized by a “one step ahead and two steps backwards”, rather than direct progression. However, one deficiency remains in this development, and that is the lack of implementation of the policies and their formulations. There is still a great difference between legal provisions and promises on the one hand, and implementation and fulfilment of these on the other. Still, in the 2010s, it is clear that what is on paper is rarely fulfilled in practice, even if good examples exist in parallel with cases/municipalities, in which neglect or low prioritization of the teaching of and in these languages are expressed.

Two government inquiries were presented during 2017 to the Minister of Culture (SOU 2017:60 and SOU 2017:88, by Mr Lennart Rohdin), and Minister of Education (SOU 2017:91) by Jarmo Lainio. These have been thought of as critical for the maintenance of several of the Swedish national minority languages, which are severely endangered. In several respects the expectations and the atmosphere concerning the survival of the languages today remind of the situation for Meänkieli (then called Tornedal Finnish) at the beginning of the 1980s. A meeting among activists and scholars was then labelled “The last battle”.

In essence, several features discussed for decades are now revisited in the inquiries. This both concerns the more general language and education policy issues, but also detailed framing conditions for the teaching in and of the languages. Lainio will discuss some of these issues, mostly referring to the results of the inquiry SOU 2017:91.

These concern: General conditions of teaching the languages, the situation for mother tongue instruction and bilingual education, the relation between demand and offer of teaching, teacher education, the role of municipalities for several of these issues, as well as other features that have turned out more critical in the present-day situation. As framing questions the seminar will touch upon the issue of last battle or first steps, as well as, how did we end up in revitalization instead of build-up activities for these languages? The discussion is believed to also be valid for other mother tongues taught in the Swedish public school system.