Opposition agrees education compromise

The centre-left opposition has proposed the introduction of national testing from seventh grade with written testimonials already from first grade, the leaders of the three parties confirmed at a press conference in Visby on Tuesday.

Opposition agrees education compromise
Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix (file)

Testing within school education has been one of the key sticking points for the “red-green” opposition and the announcement is a significant retreat for the Left Party, and rules out any hope of a cross-bloc compromise between the Social Democrats and the governing Alliance parties.

“We will absolutely refuse to introduce grades for six-year-olds,” Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin said.

The opposition proposal means introducing grades from 13-14-years-old and written testimonials for 7-year-olds while the government has proposed grades from 12-13-years-old.

The Social Democrats and the Green Party were able to get the Left Party to concede to the change by agreeing to increase funding with the goal of raising the number of qualified teachers in primary schools to at least nine per 100 students.

Education minister Jan Björklund called the move “inadequate”.

“It is a half step forward that they’re willing to move the grades down one year compared to today, but I’m not that impressed because it is inadequate. We need grades from the intermediate level in Swedish schools and this is what the government has proposed,” Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund said in a comment.

Eva-Lis Sirén of the national teachers’ union (Lärarförbundet) however welcomed the news.

“I am very happy over the commitment to pupil-teacher ratios.”

Sirén reserved criticism for the fact that the opposition could only agree to testing from seventh grade while the government has proposed the sixth grade.

“This means that the politicians recognise their inability to develop a long term sustainable system.”

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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