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SCHOOLS

Healthy pupil forced to endure special school

A pupil in Hässleholm in southern Sweden spent seven years in a special school despite not having an intellectual disability. The pupil's parents tried to get their son moved to a regular school but were refused.

The pupil was placed in a special school on the basis of a psychological test carried out a year and a half before the decision was taken, local newspaper Kristianstadsbladet reports.

Last year, when he joined an independent special school, an examination was conducted which showed that he was not suffering from any mental disability.

The Swedish National Agency for School Inspection (Skolinspektionen) has now criticized the local municipality for not carrying out any form of educational, medical or social examination before the child began special school.

The pupil’s possibilities for attending a regular school while receiving some form of support were not examined either.

“We understand that the basis was, to say the least, thin. An error has occurred here that has seriously affected the pupil’s life,” Staffan Opitz at the agency told the newspaper.

When it became clear that the pupil was not suffering from any mental disability he started to attend a regular school. He passed the national tests with acceptable grades and was accepted into a high school in the autumn of 2008.

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DISCRIMINATION

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.” 

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