Councils rapped over Swedish credits for Chinese students

The Swedish National Agency for School Inspection (Skolinspektionen) has criticized two municipalities for awarding high school equivalency credits to Chinese students that have neither lived nor studied in Sweden.

The credits were awarded in Mathematics and English under the auspices of municipal adult education programmes in Kristianstad and Båstad municipalities in southern Sweden.

“We are critical of Båstad and Kristianstad municipalities for having given final exams and issued credit to around 50 Chinese students, despite them neither having lived nor studied in Sweden,” the agency’s director-general Hans Albin Larsson said in a statement.

“The credits lack the legitimacy stipulated in regulations governing adult high school-level education in Sweden. The students’ credits can thus be invalid when applying for a place at a Swedish university, for example.”

The issue was brought to the attention of the agency by the National Agency for Services to Universities and University Colleges (VHS) on July 2nd.

VHS had reported Akademi Båstad and Vuxenutbildning i Kristianstad for issuing the high school equivalency credits.

The move is a direct violation of school law provision stipulating that schooling has to be undertaken within the country’s borders.

The education bodies were also censured for not following clear and transparent guidelines for awarding credits to the Chinese students.

Furthermore the teacher responsible for testing the students in Kristianstad was not employed by the municipality at the time, also a contravention of the school law.

The Agency for School Inspection has given the municipalities until September 15th 2009 by which to account for the measures undertaken to address the criticism.

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Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

Parents with Arabic-sounding names get a less friendly response and less help when choosing schools in Sweden, according to a new study from the University of Uppsala.

Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

In one of the largest discrimination experiments ever carried out in the country, 3,430 primary schools were contacted via email by a false parent who wanted to know more about the school. The parent left information about their name and profession.

In the email, the false parent stated that they were interested in placing their child at the school, and questions were asked about the school’s profile, queue length, and how the application process worked. The parent was either low-educated (nursing assistant) or highly educated (dentist). Some parents gave Swedish names and others gave “Arabic-sounding” names.

The report’s author, Jonas Larsson Taghizadeh said that the study had demonstrated “relatively large and statistically significant negative effects” for the fictional Arabic parents. 

“Our results show that responses to emails signed with Arabic names from school principals are less friendly, are less likely to indicate that there are open slots, and are less likely to contain positive information about the school,” he told The Local. 

READ ALSO: Men with foreign names face job discrimination in Sweden: study

The email responses received by the fictional Arabic parents were rated five percent less friendly than those received by the fictional Swedish parents, schools were 3.2 percentage points less likely to tell Arabic parents that there were open slots at the school, and were 3.9 percentage points less likely to include positive information about the municipality or the school. 

There was no statistically significant difference in the response rate and number of questions answered by schools to Swedish or Arabic-sounding parents. 

Taghizadeh said that there was more discrimination against those with a low social-economic status job than against those with an Arabic name, with the worst affected group being those who combined the two. 

“For socioeconomic discrimination, the results are similar, however, here the discrimination effects are somewhat larger,” he told The Local. 

Having a high economic status profession tended to cancel out the negative effects of having an Arabic name. 

“The discrimination effects are substantially important, as they could potentially indirectly influence parents’ school choice decision,” Taghizadeh said.

Investigating socioeconomic discrimination is also important in itself, as discrimination is seldom studied and as explicit discrimination legislation that bans class-based discrimination is rare in Western countries including Sweden, in contrast to laws against ethnic discrimination.”