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EDUCATION

‘Renationalize Sweden’s schools’: Liberals

The state ought to once again take over primary responsibility for Sweden’s schools, according to a proposal under consideration within the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet).

'Renationalize Sweden's schools': Liberals

The party cites a report by the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) which questions local control of Swedish schools. The proposal is outlined by party leader and current education minister Jan Björklund and two other members of the Liberal’s governing board in an opinion article published in Tuesday’s edition of Dagens Nyheter.

According to the report, handing over more control for schools to Sweden’s 290 municipalities is one of the reasons why Swedish students don’t perform as well today than they did in the 1990s.

The “dual leadership” of having municipalities and the state share responsibility for schools results in a “muddled system of control”, according to the Liberal Party.

“The question of ‘who is responsible?’ should be able to be asked and answered for any given operation. But when it comes to schools, the state can simply blame municipalities, while the municipalities can claim that it is due to poor governance by the state,” write the authors.

Another reason for renationalizing the schools is a requirement in Sweden’s schools law which states that all children have the right to the same level of education.

Today, there are large differences in school spending between different municipalities, the authors claim.

“No one’s life conditions should be worse simply because they happened to be born in a municipality that doesn’t prioritize education,” write Björkland and his colleagues.

They also think that the status of the teaching profession has dropped and that it has been harder to recruit young people into teacher training programmes since municipalities were given partial control of schools in the early 1990s.

Björklund and other leading Liberal Party members have previously expressed support for giving full control of schools back to the state, but the party’s 2001 national conference nevertheless decided that the main responsibility should remain with municipalities.

Now the party’s leadership wants to ditch the earlier decision at its next national conference, scheduled for later this autumn.

According to the Liberal Party, it’s high time to bring up discussion of the issue among the four governing centre-right Alliance parties.

Currently, no other party has taken up the issue of renationalizing Sweden’s schools.

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HEALTH

Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

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