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EDUCATION

Christian movement’s home schooling ‘unacceptable’

Stockholm's top education official has vowed to shut down homeschooling by a revivalist movement that advocates spanking and calls evolution into question.

“It’s unacceptable and illegal,” said Stockholm’s deputy mayor for schools Lotta Edholm to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The move comes after a documentary by Sveriges Television revealed that the Maranata movement was home schooling children without permission.

A revivalist religious movement founded in Norway in the late 1950s by breakaway Pentecostalists, the Maranatas have been operating home schools in Sweden since the 1970s.

“We’re considered fundamentalists,” said Tage Johansson, a preacher and chair of Maranata, to DN.

Currently, three students between 7- and 10-years-old participate in Maranata home schooling lessons, which are conducted by the children’s parents and modeled on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Edholm has promised that Maranata will not be allowed to continue educating children in the autumn 2008 school term and that she would force the children to attend regular schools.

“When parents fail in their responsibilities, as has happened in this case, the municipality ought to be able to issue a fine if the parents don’t send their children to school,” she said.

But Johansson isn’t afraid of the city’s threats, arguing that his students receive a better education than they would at regular schools.

“If that happens, then we’ll be law breakers. Like the Apostles said, ‘we ought to obey God rather than men,’” he said to DN.

“We see our lessons as very effective. Because there are only three students, each one receives much more attention than in an ordinary school.”

Johansson admits that Maranata’s home schooled students are subject to spankings, but “only in extreme situations”.

“As the Bible says, ‘the Lord disciplines those he loves’ and ‘he that spareth his rod hateth his son.’ We don’t back down from God’s word,” he said.

Johansson also said that evolution was simply a “viewpoint held by many” and that the children were “brainwashed” by Maranata in order to free them “from the degrading effects of society”.

EDUCATION

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

Sweden's Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) chain has been denied permission to open four new schools in Gothenburg, Huddinge, Norrtälje, and Upplands-Bro, after the schools inspectorate said it had not provided pupil data.

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has denied permission to the chain to open a new planned new school in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm, even though the building that will house it is already half built. The inspectorate has also denied permission to three other schools which the chain had applied to start in 2023. 

In all four cases, the applications have been rejected because the school did not submit the required independent assessment for how many pupils the schools were likely to have. 

Jörgen Stenquist, IES’s deputy chief executive, said that IES has not in the past had to submit this data, as it has always been able to point to the queues of pupils seeking admissions to the school. 

“The fact that Engelska Skolan, as opposed to our competition, has never had the need to hire external companies to do a direct pupil survey is because we have had so many in line,” he told DN.

“In the past, it has been enough that we reported a large queue in the local area. But if the School Inspectorate wants us to conduct targeted surveys and ask parents directly if they want their children to start at our new schools, then maybe we have to start doing that.”

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According to the newspaper, when the inspectorate had in the past asked for pupil predictions, the chain has refused, stating simply “we do not make student forecasts”, which the inspectorate has then accepted. 

However, in this year’s application round, when IES wrote: “We do not carry out traditional interest surveys as we simply have not had a need for this,” the inspectorate treated it as grounds to reject its applications. 

According to DN, other school chain have been complaining to the inspectorate that IES gets favourable treatment and was excused some requirements other chains have to fulfil. 

Liselotte Fredzell, from the inspectorate’s permitting unit, confirmed that the inspectorate was trying to be more even handed. 

“Yes, it is true that we are now striving for a more equal examination of applications. Things may have been getting too slack, and we needed to tighten up.” 

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