Rise in truancy often parents’ fault: report

Thousands of schoolchildren across the country are regularly skipping classes as the problem of truancy grows, according to a new report.

Swedish schools are finding it harder than ever to deal with the problem of truancy, according to the report carried out by the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen).

In the 50 secondary schools in 28 municipalities surveyed, 2 percent of students in grades 7-9 are showing a high rate of absence that can be classed as truancy, the equivalent of 2-4 per school.

On a country-wide basis this equates to thousands of children skipping school every day, reports TT.

In general, the problem is greater according the size of the school involved.

Independent schools, which generally tend to be smaller, reported less incidents of truancy, the report states. Nevertheless, one third of schools claim to be working hard to deal with the problem.

Various reasons for the problem are highlighted, and in many cases, the finger of blame is pointed at the parents.

“It can be about a student who has problems in school, and we need to look into how their education should be adapted. Pupils may also have abuse in the family. It is not so unusual that students are kept at home by parents who need help when they are drunk,” said Jonas Nygren at the Swedish Schools Inspectorate to TT.

Parents are blamed also for the rising number of holidays booked by parents during term time, often without the permission of the head teacher.

“Head teachers often feel pressurized by parents who want to go to Thailand at Lucia and come back on January 15. If they do so every year, the student has lost the equivalent of one academic year by ninth grade”, said Nygren.

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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.”