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Sweden tries to rein in religion at free schools

Sweden tries to rein in religion at free schools

Published: 06 Oct 2010 12:35 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Oct 2010 12:35 GMT+02:00

During the British election campaign earlier this year, the Conservatives heralded the ‘Swedish free school model’ as the answer to Britain’s failing schools.

According to a British public report, the introduction of free schools in Sweden has led to a “moderately positive” effect on the national academic performance of children aged 15 to 16.

But just as Britain was preparing itself for the introduction this autumn of three schools to be operated by Kunskapsskolan AB, Sweden’s largest free school operator, politicians back in Sweden put a new education proposal in place designed to tackle what they perceive as some of the pitfalls of the 'Swedish Model' some 20 years on.

Sweden’s free schools are a result of education reforms in the mid-1990s when the belief was that free-market principles would improve standards in all schools due to increased competition.

The schools are funded by public money from the local municipality on a per-pupil basis, but are set up and managed privately, allowing anyone who has an application approved to get into the business of running a school.

Despite being heralded abroad as the ‘Swedish Model’ in education, the country’s free schools only account for 9 percent of compulsory education and 17 percent of secondary education.

And while the introduction of free schools has expanded the number of choices available to students and parents looking for schools to suit their particular skills and interests, the schools have also given rise to a number of concerns.

One such concern is the rapidly growing number of religious free schools, which now make up 10 percent of all free schools. In the past 10 years there has been a 138 percent increase in pupils attending these schools, which are founded by both Christian and Muslim groups, as well as more controversial organisations such as the Church of Scientology and the Plymouth Brethren.

A recent report from the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) calculated a total of 64 primary religious free primary schools and five high schools (gymnasium), 49 had a Christian profile, while eight had Muslim profile and three were Jewish.

In addition, Sweden’s religious free schools have been singled out for suspected misconduct in a number of high profile cases in recent years.

One such case was the Al Salam school, an Islam-inspired school founded in 2003 in Örebro in central Sweden, which was the target of a Sveriges Television (SVT) documentary.

The documentary revealed that the school received funding in 2005 from the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, described by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper as a “fundamentalist Islamic organization” and which is also on a United Nations list of organisations subject to sanctions for funding the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The school was also targeted by for a review by local authorities earlier this year when a number of the school’s employees quit due to poor working conditions.

Opinion in Sweden on whether religious groups should be allowed to run free schools is split. According to a survey conducted by the Synovate polling company, 46 percent of Swedes want to see churches and other religious groups banded from running schools in Sweden, compared to 40 percent who believe such schools should be allowed.

Per Kornhall, an ex-employee of Livets Ord School, run by a church within the Swedish evangelical Word of Faith movement, recently authored a book detailing his experiences of working in a religious free school as a biology teacher.

“If you open up the system, you also have to control it,” he says.

According to Kornall, prior to the introduction of Sweden’s new education act, there was hardly any legislation addressing religion’s influence in free schools, a situation which left the door open for fundamentalism within the religious free schools system.

“It seems the more that a religious organisation deviates from a normal religion, the greater the risk is that they will want to set up a free school,” he says.

Another problem, according to Johan Wennhall, head of the education department in the city of Västerås in central Sweden, is that religious free schools can foster segregation.

“There is always a risk, when everyone shares the same values and beliefs, that this can create an isolated community,” he says.

The segregation argument came up in a case involving the Plymouth Brethren, an evangelical Christian movement whose free school is situated in a small community in Småland in south central Sweden.

The Brethren believe in a strict doctrine of “separation from sin” which means members must keep away from any person or group that does not follow the exclusive Brethren teaching.

The school set up in 2007 by the Brethren was originally denied a permit from Swedish education authorities, was allowed eventually able to start operations after it changed its status to an “industrial” high school.

The free school system allows any organisation to run a school using state funds. Kornall points out that although it is illegal to teach ideas such as creationism in science class, the fact that the schools are privately owned has meant there has been no transparency, effectively meaning teachers can say what they want behind closed doors.

While inspectors have visited these schools, a lack of strict legislation has rendered the inspections “virtually useless” according to Kornall.

In his book “Livets Ord”, interviews with students reveal that often they would rehearse lessons before the inspectors would arrive. One particular student describes how “before an inspection, the teachers would tell us to look interested. The teaching would appear to be good, but it’s all the other things that go on there, which you can’t see if you’re only there a few days”.

In 2001 the National Agency for Education inspection of the Livets Ord school resulted in a damning report in which it described the school as being built on a sense of “authority and vengeance”, concluding that the school was “not up to the standard of Swedish democratic values”.

Despite the education authorities’ criticism, no action was taken against the school, a fact which, according to Kornhall, is a perfect example of how previous legislation has failed to control religious free schools.

Current Liberal Party leader and education minister Jan Björklund has criticised the existence of some of the more controversial religious free schools, stating, “students must be protected against any form of fundamentalism”.

Fellow Liberal Nyamko Sabuni, who served as minister for integration under the first Alliance government and will now find her portfolio housed within the ministry of education during the Alliance’s second term, has gone further and called for a complete withdrawal of municipal contributions to schools founded on religious grounds.

Under the Convention of Human Rights, parents have the right to place their children in a school “that is consistent with their own beliefs and philosophy”. However Sabuni believes that this law can be set against the convention on the rights of a child, also ratified by Sweden, which states that the best interests of the child be of “primary consideration”.

The new education act, which came into force in August and requires schools to be in compliance by the end of the current academic year, has been described by Björklund as a “sharpening” of the previous legislation and will see the same regulation apply for free schools as for national schools.

The act makes clear that the lessons in religious schools must be objective, factual and not contain any religious elements. It also says that free schools, while allowed to have a religious slant, are not allowed to force students to participate in religious activities.

However, it remains to be seen how effective the new law will be at addressing the influence of religion in Sweden’s free schools.

Anders Wirsén, principal of Josua Chistian free school in Gamleby in southeastern Sweden, interprets the new law in a way that still allows school official to require students to attend classes in religion.

In Wirsén’s view, the new legislation isn’t enough to prompt him to give students at his school a choice about attending religious lessons.

“If someone as a parent has chosen a Christian school, I think that’s where the choice lies and that they have then chosen the little morning gathering for a lesson in Christian teachings,” he told Sveriges Radio in March as the new law was presented for debate in parliament.

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22:04 October 6, 2010 by Iftikhar_Ahmad
Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.

The British Government is planning to make it easier to schools to "opt out" from the Local Authorities. Muslim children in state schools feel isolated and confused about who they are. This can cause dissatisfaction and lead them into criminality, and the lack of a true understanding of Islam can ultimately make them more susceptible to the teachings of fundamentalists like Christians during the middle ages and Jews in recent times in Palestine. Fundamentalism is nothing to do with Islam and Muslim; you are either a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies.Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam's teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys. They perform better in single-sex classes. The research is promising because male students in the study saw noticeable gains in the grades. The study confirms the Islamic notion that academic achievement is better in single-sex classes.

Iftikhar Ahmad

http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
22:17 October 6, 2010 by Nemesis
Religeon should be banned from schools.

The teachings of the judeo-christian-islamic-satanist people do not belong in schools.

Science, mathmatics and factual education belong in school. Not the deranged rantings of a bunch of lunatics who made up some violent and genocidal stories while most likely stoned of there heads in the middle of a desert.

If people want to read and learn about myths, they can goto a comic shop or a book store.

Schools are for education, not mythology.
01:24 October 7, 2010 by Roy E
But then they would not be 'free' schools anymore then, would they?

And we do know that the government thinks that the only thing that should be worshiped is the government.
03:35 October 7, 2010 by JoeSwede
It's healthy to offer some other choices besides the public schools.
06:23 October 7, 2010 by Da Goat
I am very confused

Kornall says it is illegal to teach creationism in science classes (ie you can't teach science in science class)

then later it says you classes can't contain religious elements (so they can't teach evolution either)

some classes will be quite boring it seems!

and before anyone says i am confused study the real facts not what the media tells you, just because someone says something does not make it correct!

and just because all the sheeple follow makes no difference either.

this article shows clearly it is a fight between atheism and theism!
09:31 October 7, 2010 by Rebel
I sincerely hope that the Kunskapsolan model is not adopted in other nations. Sweden should adopt the policy that England has that free schools can operate, but cannot run on a profit model. That would insure more local schools and more educaational choices and diversity, and not big corporations that see education as a business become the norm.
10:05 October 7, 2010 by LundenLad
Religious schooling is a disaster for the children who are indoctrinated in stupid superstitions and given a poor education (at least in biology) and leads to sectarian division in society. Why any government would want to fund this child abuse is beyond me.

Having said that, having met Iranians who went through the Iranian school system, children will see through the big lies eventually and end up very secular.
10:52 October 7, 2010 by Rebel
Welcome to Sweden -- where diversity of thought is a virtue...unless that thought runs counter to the mainstream of Swedish society.
17:17 October 7, 2010 by Goodwill81
I thought the French revolution made us a bit smarter regarding the religion-state relations. Schools are for everyone and must offer same education for all. If you want to go to sunday school, fine, but thats the concern of your local church and it should be done there.

Concerning the muslim demands of separate schools and even separation of boys and girls its clear that they are slowly, bit by bit, demanding and changing western society towards their wishes and culture which is scandalous. Assimilate and adapt or go back to your muslim home-country where you can wear burkas, stone your women and do what ever pleases you.

To conclude - same (quality) state schools for everyone while religion has nothing to do with this concept because it's a private thing of an individual.
05:03 October 8, 2010 by pathfinder.uppsala
@ Iftikhar_Ahmad....!!!

Who is this stupid or may be over smart Iftikhar_Ahmad ???

Please follow the comment from Goodwill81 !!

Well said man.
14:37 October 8, 2010 by Athanasia Theodoropoulou
Iftikhar Ahmad,

So by your own admission Muslim children cannot fulfil their potential and cannot fully participate in Western societies like every other equal member unless they go to Muslim schools that 'offer better discipline and teach Islamic values'. I take it there is a correlation in your mind between better discipline and Islamic values, which are therefore better than, say, Western values? Why are you offering ammunition to racists? Western countries are democratic, not theocratic, and the majority of the European population believes in secular and non-authoritarian values and education. So for you to come and say that Islamic values are better is a bit provocative. After all, we are talking about European taxpayers' money. Can you imagine me, in any context, as being able to go to a Muslim theocracy and advocate that my secular values are better and therefore I demand funding and investment in them? No, I thought so. Because this demand would only be imaginable in a democratic society! Do you understand the paradox in your thinking? The very structure that you find insufficient and inadequate is the only structure that enables you to further your causes. Why don't you or the families who so badly need the instruction of Islamic values live in a Muslim theocracy that provides this superior type of education? No wonder you had Goodwill81's reaction coming, there will be many more.
15:35 October 8, 2010 by engagebrain
Scientologists are allowed to run schools !

The state should protect children from this and all related nonsense, not pay for it.

In Northern Ireland, the segregation and bigotry is founded maintained by religious schooling. Children enter ghettoized schools and society pays for resulting social and political chaos.

Keep a clear separation between the state and religion.
15:40 October 8, 2010 by james_g
There is no way ANY religious indoctrination or brainwashing should be allowed in ANY school, publicly funded or not - apart from 'Sunday schools' or the equivalent for other religions, where such foolishness must be allowed under the aegis of the freedom of the individual I suppose; the same freedom should apply though to the right of the child to refuse to attend without unpleasant consequences! 'Faith' schools are an anachronism...
16:23 October 8, 2010 by seagull
I agree with james

Religion should be a private thing. Education should be about reality as we currently understand it.

and @Da Goat

Utter nonsense. Creationism is to science what Astrology is to...science. ie it is NOT a science. It is a view based on ancient mythology.

Evolution is a fact, no longer a theory. A simple analysis of genetic makeup can tell us that WITHOUT all the fossil records.

Religion(s) should be taught as part of history class only. And all religious schools should be closed.
16:47 October 8, 2010 by Shaikailash
I find quite worrying this story, I didn't expect that in Sweden such a problem would have emerged...maybe the original reason behind that law could be fine on the paper (open free school funded by the state to allow minority groups and other ideas to have their own education in addition to the public one).But then you easily realize how bad it's. School is one of the most important institution for the building of the nation-state, and a national (or European, I hope) identity. Reality shows us that some common values are required to have a peaceful society, despite what the more liberal people can things.

We can allow the maximum diversity and freedom of thought in the public arena, but OUTSIDE the state and institutions (= parliament, laws, Constitutions, schools, etc), and not inside them.

We cannot have a public school system where one or two religions are taught as official. Secularization should be the guide-line for everything related to the State and the society as institution, to guarantee peace among citizens.

Public schools born (sadly only on the paper in many occasion) to "build" the best citizen, an educated citizen and a person capable to judge and elect their representatives in the more objective way.

We cannot teach mythology and faith stuffs to these citizens, otherwise the risk is that they won't be free and able to have a critics view of the society and events in the world, but the majority of them will only be believers, and they will believe in politicians as they believe in their gods. It's not a good thing.

So, if public school should build a good citizen according to the state/society common rules and institutions (but free to choose her religion OUTSIDE the state, in HER OWN PRIVATE LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!), it's not imaginable to allow free school, founded by the state, to build their own citizen. Otherwise there will be a lot of different citizens with different ideas not only of religions (which is ok), but of the states rules and minimum common values required for any society to survive.

This is a suicide for the State, the citizenship and the society as institutions, and the Swedish society, which built one of the most advanced and democratic state in the world, will be in serious danger.

I personally think that no religion should be the official religion for a State. But I could agree on a generic religion course in the public school where religions are taught as a fact of history, and nothing else. This should be done probably for general knowledge.

Religions today are an irrational and illogical things that will disappear in the next centuries. Probably one day we'll play a real-time strategy video games with Christian, Muslims and Jewish. It will be funny. ;)

P.S. This sentence is worrying: "study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys."

What about girls? We should all keep in mind that all fundamentalisms are always bad.
17:34 October 8, 2010 by Iftikhar_Ahmad
Salaam

It is easy to say" Go back to where you came from",but do not forget that British Muslims are actually born and educated here. They are in the unenviable position of trying to combine two diffent worlds. That is no easy.

We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference - different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge's schools have reached their highest levels since record begin.

Immigrants are the creators of Britain new wealth, otherwise, inner cities deprived areas could not get new lease of life. The native Brits regard such areas as ghettoes. Integration is not religious and cultural, it is economic and Muslims are well integrated into British society and at the same time they are proud of their Islamic, linguistic and cultural identities, inspite of discrimination they have been facing in all walks of life. According to UN, 80% of British Muslims feel discriminated. They are less burden on social services. Immigrants made up 8.7% of the population, but accounted for10.2% of all collected income tax

It is often quoted by the Western media that Muslim schools ghettoizse the children, and even lead to their radicalisation if they are not integrated. There is no evidence that faith schools lead to a "ghettoized education system. In British schools, pupils are encouraged to focus too much on their similarities rather than their differences. The integrationist approach merely results in Muslims feeling that their faith, language and culture is not respected.

A report by the Institute for Community Cohesion found that native parents were deserting some schools after finding their children out numbered by pupils from ethnic minorities. Schools in parts of England are becoming increasingly segregated. The study focused on 13 local authorities. Many of the schools and colleges are segregated and this was generally worsening over recent years. This is RACISM because British society is the home of institutional racism. My statement regarding Muslim schools where there is no place for non-Muslim child or a teacher is based on educational process and not on racism. Muslim children need Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. For higher studies and reserech, Muslim teacher is not a priority.

Iftikhar Ahmad

http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk
18:04 October 8, 2010 by james_g
@ Iftikhar Ahmad: "Immigrants are the creators of Britain new wealth" - wrong! I'll happily accept 'Some immigrants are creators of some of Britain's new wealth' though. The same applies here in Sweden presumably. "Muslim children need Muslim teachers during their developmental periods" - I would actually disagree with the basic premise, but given than some/many/most Muslims want their children to be 'educated' in the relevant myths/dogmas etc (as do some Christians, Jews, Hindus, worshippers of the Earth Mother, etc. etc.) it's going to happen anyway - just NOT in the mainstream education system or anything paid for out of public funds, thank you very much!
01:55 October 9, 2010 by seagull
@Iftikhar_Ahmad

I agree with most of what you have said. I hate "racism".

However

"Muslim children need Muslim teachers during their developmental periods"

I disagree with.

Religion should not be an institutional thing. No child is born Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu...etc That is a "point of view" that should be worked out individually...

If a parent is so adament their kids should follow the same religion, then ALL religious teaching should be done at home. ALL education (certainly in a free and democratic society) should be secular...ie free from religion, whilst allowing freedom OF religion. The problem with any non-secular society is that there is no true "freedom of religion"...Secularity may be alien to many muslims, but actually it is what allows them to practice freely...
09:13 October 9, 2010 by jaysea32
If the government doesn't deal smartly and openly with this now, it will only become exacerbated with time. They need to establish their program and then enforce it. No exceptions!
13:34 October 9, 2010 by Swedesmith
If the school accepts state money, it should not teach religious doctrines, unless the school is willing to teach a course in all the main religions that all students must take.

If the purpose of the school is to focus on a particular religious faith, it should do this through private schools and places of worship.
16:18 October 9, 2010 by Puffin
If a Swedish school accepts public money then they are required to teach the Swedish national curriculum

However there is a fair amount of flexibility regarding what can be taught in religion lessons
19:58 October 9, 2010 by sundstr0m
@seagull

I see no reason why 'intelligent design' should not be taught in schools alongside 'evolution'. They are both scientific "theories" (NOT FACTs btw!) and children should be able to learn about both and decide for themselves what they want to believe. Whilst evolution does occur in species on our beautiful planet, that is a far cry from explaining how the Universe, Planet Earth and Life in general came into being.

I put it to you that believing in an 'intelligent designer' who created the Universe and everything and everyone in it, is no more crazy than believing that there was a big explosion (um, who or what caused this btw...? the answer to that is of course nobody knows - yes there is SO MUCH that science cannot explain...) and somehow the earth came into being and over billions of years some green slime crawled out of the ocean and eventually became 'monkeys' who eventually became us humans (um, why do we still have monkeys?).

Funny (well actually not, far from it) that we (humanity) have managed to totally screw up our beautiful planet (that is apparently so many trillions of years old and has survived sooo much) in just the space of a couple of hundred years eh??
20:10 October 9, 2010 by seagull
@sundstr0m

Intelligent design was a psuedo-science invented by the US christian right to try and force it into schools.

Science is about scientifically observable and testable thesis.NOT about ancient mythological books.

And evolution(by natural selection) is a threory in as much as the earth orbiting the sun is a theory.

Also...evolution DOES NOT TRY TO EXPLAIN how the universe, planet and life came about...Far too many people make that mistake. It only describes how species evolve. That is it. And it has been proven to be factual, in both fossil records and genetics.

It has absolutely nothing to do with big bang , relativity or quantum theory.

In fact, Darwins theory of evolution does not in any way provide proof against the existance of a supreme being...All it does is disprove the bible, koran etc as "actual fact"...which is why many modern christians regard the old testament and much of the new testament as merely parables.
21:14 October 9, 2010 by sundstr0m
@seagull

YEP. My point exactly! Evolution is a theory so please refer to it in the correct manner in future. It does nothing to disprove The Bible and I disagree completely with your statement regarding many 'modern' Christians - seems like you don't know very many mate! = )

Acutally evolution is very related to the big bang etc as scientists like to try and explain everything and have it all fit together nicely, so I understand (even if you didn't get it) the point I was trying to make regarding this. Science may know alot, but there is so much more that it doesn't know and can't explain, so please don't put it up on some kind of pedestal where it clearly doesn't belong.
22:24 October 9, 2010 by mikewhite
"why do we still have monkeys ?" - we have domestic cats, why do we still have tigers ?

In any case the last common ancestor of both humans and currently existing monkeys was probably quite unlike either.
23:34 October 9, 2010 by orangecake
sundstr0m. What are you talking about? The big bang and Darwins theory are no more linked than eggs and trees.

Yes. It's a theory. As is the earth revolving around the sun...ie fact.

And yes. It does disprove the idea that the bible is a factual timeline of events, because if the bible were true, then we all came from 2 fully formed humans, one that was made from a rib... and all around 6000 years ago... This is obviously not true to anyone with the smallest grasp of reality.

And you obviously haven't the slightest idea what science even is... It doesn't claim it has an answer for everything, but the big difference between science and (blind) faith, is that science allows itself to be corrected when a theory is proved wrong. It relies on observable facts and evidence. When a new theory comes around scientists spend all their time trying to DISPROVE it.

Religion, for the most part relies on stories written by people who thought the earth was flat and that illness was caused by demons (which in turn could be driven awayby drilling holes in the head).
07:38 October 10, 2010 by jackx123
The Muslim year is errr some 600 years behind the gregorian and so is the mindset. You try and teach christianity os any other religion than islam in Saudi - haha good luck. You will be sentenced to jail for a Loooong time.
08:43 October 10, 2010 by seagull
@sundstr0m.

As is said above...

And why do we still have monkeys? Or perhaps more relevantly, apes, well humans are a member of the family of apes. We are apes. Just like chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutangs. We all share a common ancestor. Evolution is like the branches of a tree. Everything comes from single celled organisms at the bottom, and over time more and more complicated species evolved. Just because one branch leads to humans does not mean another cannot lead to chimpanzees, or in fact spider monkeys or capuchin monkeys, or tigers.

If you analyse the genetic makeup of a chimp, it is 98% identical to that of a human.
11:34 October 10, 2010 by lordsandwich
@Iftikhar_Ahmad what a massive joke! There should be no teaching of muslim values, only British! If you don't like British values and culture then what are you doing in Britain? Go to a muslim country where you can satistfy your needs. Teaching different cultures leads to segregation and division in society. Look well multicultural countries faired in History: Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia, the kurds in Turkey, and so on. A country needs a common set of values, culture an identity to so members of the society feel they are part of the same group and there is solidarity towards each other. Otherwise you get different groups with radically different interests competing trying to wrestle power from each other. The only thing they share is the same patch of land. The State does has no legitimacy over all people
15:43 October 10, 2010 by qed16
Even in the US which has it's share of religious nuts, certainly more than Sweden, we have an official separation of church and state. It's not always respected in fundamentalist areas like the the South but at least it's there...

Teaching these fairy tales to impressionable children truly is child abuse. There's no place for it in a free society.

@iftikhar - You've got to be kidding that Muslim schools are going to produce "balanced citizens" for us non-Muslim infidels. One look at the barbarity, backwardness, low economic productivity and sexism in the Middle East is the best response to that... Maybe looking at the world as something other than "Muslim or non-Muslim" would be a start for you.

If you don't like the West, buy a one way ticket to somewhere more appealing. Seriously. You will not be missed.
09:52 October 11, 2010 by Kanedaa
@Iftikhar_Ahmad

Religious schools are terrible and children should never be sent to them. Religion should play no part in a child's upbringing until the child itself is old enough to understand what religion is and make up its own mind.

I'm glad they're closing down religious schools, close them all down are end this human blight called religion.
17:25 October 11, 2010 by jackx123
@qed6

bang on.

Islam is all about converting non-mulsims to muslims. 15 years in the middle east I know the wicked mind set.

just look what's going on in swat valley or afghanistan and all the human trafficking in the middle east (public UN, Interpol sites)
19:39 October 11, 2010 by Mike #1986
Iftikhar_Ahmad

It's shocking to read the rubbish you write and so it is shocking to see Muslim girls at my sons school in 2nd and 3rd class covered with there Burkas !!!

This religion has no freedom of choice and its being forced upon children by people like yourself at a young age and that is evil.

Your religion has no place in Swedish schools nor does it have a place in Swedens society.
09:30 October 12, 2010 by engagebrain
@seagull I see no reason why 'intelligent design' should not be taught in schools alongside 'evolution'.

Similarly the myths and fantasies of a thousand religions could also be taught.

Or you stick to evidence based theories, or as we call it evolution by natural selection.

Rather than intelligent design, which presumes a designer who might as well be a god, we actually have 'lash up' design, with all sorts fiddles and readjustments: as we move from 4 legs to an upright posture - the human back is a disaster area design wise, but all you can manage when evolving. Similarly giving birth for homo sapiens is painful and dangerous, not great design, but as our species has developed a large head and the female body has yet to fully adapt.
16:15 October 12, 2010 by xguild
" I am very confused

Kornall says it is illegal to teach creationism in science classes (ie you can't teach science in science class)

then later it says you classes can't contain religious elements (so they can't teach evolution either) "

Kormall understands that evolution doesn't have anything to do with religion, he, like most educated people consider evolution a scientific fact as it has been proven to be.
19:05 October 12, 2010 by seagull
@engagebrain

Of course when I say "evolution" I mean "evolution by natural selection"... Most people assume that anyway, probably wrongly.

And of course religious "theories" should not be taught in "science class", because they are not open to debate and disproof.

As you say... For an "intelligent design", the human being is rather badky "designed"...hardly the work of a perfect deity. And don't even get me started on the Dodo.
00:32 October 13, 2010 by ppaf
Let's get together and feel alright!
03:28 October 14, 2010 by kzjh72
To @Seagull and others:

Natural Selection is only one part of the evolution theory. This part is not disputed by most creationists or other proponents of Intelligent Design. The questionable parts of the evolution theory is how new variations of existing spices (ultimately new variations of the first single cell) come into being in the first place so that the Natural Selection process has something to select from. Natural selection by itself makes no new things. Since natural selection can only cull, the evolutionary theory rely on mutations (random copying mistakes in the reproductive process) to create the raw material on which natural selection can then operate. This part of the evolution theory is still being examined and faces many challenges as almost all observed mutations has proven to be damaging for the offspring and even those mutations which have given a survival benefit are seen to be losses of information.

That's not to say that we will not get the answers one day. But we are far from there yet.
14:10 October 14, 2010 by rohermoker
Politics vs propaganda or education vs indoctornation

all i know is that I am right and every one who does not think or look like me is wrong
19:34 October 15, 2010 by engagebrain
@kzjh72

evolution the genetics are among the best understood processes. We can map genomes, actually identify genetic changes, find minor variations in proteins between individuals and between species.

As you note, many mutations are not improvements and natural selections culls these. Those that work survive and slowly species evolve and new species form.

And without any need for a god, a deity or a chief designer....
21:38 October 18, 2010 by mojofat
@kzjh72

"Since natural selection can only cull, the evolutionary theory rely on mutations (random copying mistakes in the reproductive process) to create the raw material on which natural selection can then operate. This part of the evolution theory is still being examined and faces many challenges as almost all observed mutations has proven to be damaging for the offspring and even those mutations which have given a survival benefit are seen to be losses of information."

I'm not sure I understand your point. Even if only 1% of genetic deviation occurs within a species, over long spans of time that is significant. And evolution requires very long spans of time. Additionally, I think you're forgetting that many more offspring are born than survive...that's important. Reading your comment, it feels like you're omitting that from your point. Plus, it's not just genetic mutations that lead to traits: it's also sexual union and the passing down of favorable traits which continue to be reinforced.

Science class aside, I can't believe this is the 21st century and we still have "modern" civilizations hand-wringing over how to deal with religion in schools. If it were left to any religion in the world (take your picke) we would still be utilizing bronze age technology to erect sacrificial temples.
00:23 October 19, 2010 by kzjh72
@engagebrain & mojofat

I'm not disputing that there are a lot of observations of where variations in the existing gen-pool can produce offspring with some beneficial treats not visible in any of the 'parents'. Though my understanding is that there are very few, if any, observations of where totally new information (i.e. information that does not exist at all in any of the parents) has appeared in the offspring. Most variations of the current evolution theory demands millions (possible billions) of such occasions. Remember that the starting point is an extremely primitive mechanism that was able to reproduce itself that did not have any genetic information what so ever.

I believe that there is possible to question the current evolution theory without having to submit to a divine creator. The signs of "intelligent design" might in the future be explained by, still to be discovered and understood, natural forces. The 'fight' against dogmatic religious theories is not helped by not acknowledging the gaps and problems in the current mainstream evolution theory.
13:20 October 21, 2010 by Larry Thrash
Should the religions of "Climate Change", "Socialism" and "Diversity" be removed from Swedish schools?
08:51 October 23, 2010 by Mike #1986
religion should be illegal and watch every fanatic flee back to there holes.
12:06 October 24, 2010 by mojofat
@Larry Thrash: I think you're confused as to the meaning of religion. Those aren't religions...and religion aside, they're not even related to each other.
00:01 November 26, 2010 by Uggla
This is a total violation of my child's free will and my child's choice to choose their own beliefs!

Utterly disgusting!
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