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SEX

Outrage over Swedish teens’ sex dream essays

A class of grade eight students in southern Sweden was asked to write essays about their sexual fantasies and experiences for a school assignment.

Outrage over Swedish teens' sex dream essays

“Just the thought that a teacher would sit and ask about their sexual fantasies makes me sick,” one parent told the local Ystads Allehanda newspaper.

The comments came after a class consisting primarily of 14-year-old students from the Kastanje school in Tomelilla received a rather unusual writing assignment for their Swedish lesson.

Entitled “The First Time” (Första gången), the assignment instructed students to imagine they were talking to a close friend and write about the past sexual escapades they might divulge in confidence.

Other options included making up a story about their first sexual experience, writing about the first time they had sex or how they hoped their first time would be.

Getting high marks required writing at least a half page and with “passion,” according to the parent. The assignment made several students so uncomfortable, they told their parents about the request to write sexually themed essays.

“Can they really do this? As a parent, it doesn’t feel right and it irritates me that we’re talking about a graded assignment in a Swedish-language lesson,” said the parent, who wished to remain anonymous.

A teacher from the school expressed surprise that the assignment had upset parents, claiming that most students appreciated the exercise, which was part of a cooperative effort between the biology, sex and well being, and Swedish-language departments.

However, Maria Ahnlund told the newspaper she took the criticism “very seriously” and said she would review the assignment next year to see if there is a more “neutral” approach to the topic.

A spokesperson for teachers’ union Lärarförbundet emphasised the importance of addressing student concerns.

“Obviously, if students feel like the assignment violated their privacy, that criticism must be taken seriously,” Lärarförbundet spokesperson Claes Nyberg told The Local.

Nyberg added, however, that the union didn’t have a position on the case, explaining that too few details were known to make a proper assessment.

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EDUCATION

Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

Children between ages 6-9 years should be allowed admittance to after-school recreation centers free of charge, according to a report submitted to Sweden’s Minister of Education Lotta Edholm (L).

Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

“If this reform is implemented, after-school recreation centers will be accessible to the children who may have the greatest need for the activities,” said Kerstin Andersson, who was appointed to lead a government inquiry into expanding access to after-school recreation by the former Social Democrat government. 

More than half a million primary- and middle-school-aged children spend a large part of their school days and holidays in after-school centres.

But the right to after-school care is not freely available to all children. In most municipalities, it is conditional on the parent’s occupational status of working or studying. Thus, attendance varies and is significantly lower in areas where unemployment is high and family finances weak.

In this context, the previous government formally began to inquire into expanding rights to leisure. The report was recently handed over to Sweden’s education minister, Lotta Edholm, on Monday.

Andersson proposed that after-school activities should be made available free of charge to all children between the ages of six and nine in the same way that preschool has been for children between the ages of three and five. This would mean that children whose parents are unemployed, on parental leave or long-term sick leave will no longer be excluded. 

“The biggest benefit is that after-school recreation centres will be made available to all children,” Andersson said. “Today, participation is highest in areas with very good conditions, while it is lower in sparsely populated areas and in areas with socio-economic challenges.” 

Enforcing this proposal could cause a need for about 10,200 more places in after-school centre, would cost the state just over half a billion kronor a year, and would require more adults to work in after-school centres. 

Andersson recommends recruiting staff more broadly, and not insisting that so many staff are specialised after-school activities teachers, or fritidspedagod

“The Education Act states that qualified teachers are responsible for teaching, but that other staff may participate,” Andersson said. “This is sometimes interpreted as meaning that other staff may be used, but preferably not’. We propose that recognition be given to so-called ‘other staff’, and that they should be given a clear role in the work.”

She suggested that people who have studied in the “children’s teaching and recreational programmes” at gymnasium level,  people who have studied recreational training, and social educators might be used. 

“People trained to work with children can contribute with many different skills. Right now, it might be an uncertain work situation for many who work for a few months while the employer is looking for qualified teachers”, Andersson said. 

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