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EDUCATION

Swedish schools aim to ditch books by 2013

The Stockholm suburb of Sollentuna plans to get rid its schools of text books entirely by next year in favour of tablet computers like the iPad, but Sweden’s education remained sceptical about the proposal.

Swedish schools aim to ditch books by 2013

Maria Stockhaus, chair of Sollentuna’s children and education board, argued that schools in her municipality are in the ‘backwater’ compared to the rest of society, and that the time has come for three schools in particular to embrace the future.

“The schools will take a step into the now instead of staying in the old days. Computers are as natural in schools as paper and pens, yet the fact that only every other teacher in Sweden has a computer today is completely insane,” she told Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Sweden’s education minister Jan Björklund slammed the idea, however, saying that reading books and writing by hand are still relevant today.

“Even in the future people will need to read and write. You can’t always have access to a computer in some places,” he told DN.

“Books have an obvious place in school, and national exams are still written by hand. I predict that they will not follow through with their proposals.”

The Sollentuna municipality has already issued computers to all teachers, and plans to giver every student from 2nd grade and upwards their own touch screen tablet computer.

The schools to be connected are Helenelundsskolan, Sofielundsskolan and Runbacka.

Stockhaus said that the students will not be given paper and pens at all until they are 8 years of age, by which time they will have already had time to acquaint themselves with the touch screen technology.

This, she argued, will set the students up more suitably for the future.

The benefits of assigning individual computers to students are clear, if only in terms of levelling the playing field for families with differing incomes.

“We know that not every student has computer access at home. These students who come from homes with tighter finances have worse grades. An even greater wedge will occur if they do not get the same digital competence as the others,” Stockhaus said.

On top of this, she claimed that the feedback is immediate on a computer, and the students can learn much faster, with less supervision.

The digital upgrade couldn’t come soon enough, according to Stockhaus.

Tegelhagsskolan, another school nearby, already has had complete PC access for three years and its students have consistently excelled.

The investment will cost 16.5 million kronor ($2.45 million) in the start-up phase and 3 million by 2013.

A portion of the costs will be paid by the abolition of textbooks and the switching to digital learning materials.

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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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