‘Renationalise Sweden’s schools’: minister

Sweden's minister for education and the head of an influential teachers' union have called for a new centralised school system in Sweden.

'Renationalise Sweden's schools': minister

It has been twenty years since the Swedish school system was decentralised, putting control of public schools with local municipality authorities

At the time, the move was meant to improve the standard of education and the situation for teachers in Sweden.

However, according to the minister for education, Jan Björklund, the result has been the opposite.

“The worst part is that the municipalities that most need resources put into their schools usually have the least to spend on them,” Björklund writes in an article published on Monday in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, along with Metta Fjelkner, head of the National Union of Teachers (Lärarnas Riksförbund).

According to Björklund and Fjelkner there is a widening gap between resources spent on schools in different municipalities.

The two argue that the priorities of local governing bodies, rather than the needs of students, now dictate where the resources are spent.

In addition, control over schools in Sweden is “unclear” and conditions haven’t improved for Sweden’s teachers, who today find themselves among the worst paid in the OECD countries, wrote Björklund and Fjelkner.

While the state continues to regulate education through laws, the curriculum and teacher education, the municipalities are responsible for running schools and making decisions about funding and resource management.

This leads to a confused system where both blame each other for the system’s failings, according to Fjelkner and Björklund.

Although the government in recent years has established several ways of regulating the system, both Björklund and Fjelkner feel that these efforts are not enough and that it is time for the state to resume control in order to give all Swedish students an equivalent education regardless of which school they attend.

But Sweden’s largest teachers’ union, the Teachers’ Union of Sweden (Lärarförbundet), is skeptical about the proposed renationalisation.

“We think that this would simply be a costly reform which wouldn’t benefit either students or teachers,” Pontus Haag, a spokesperson with Teachers’ Union of Sweden, told The Local.

“However, it is true that clear guidelines are needed in order to make sure that students get the same level of education regardless of where they go to school.”

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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