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Sweden's free schools prompt segregation fears

The Local · 20 Mar 2013, 12:50

Published: 20 Mar 2013 12:50 GMT+01:00

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"The problem of increased segregation among the population has begun to appear and this poses significant risks over time," said Henry M. Levin at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York to Sveriges Radio (SR).

According to Levin, who has studied the Swedish school system in an international perspective since the reforms of the 1990s, the process is a slow one but has the effect of fragmenting society.

In a soon to be published study by researchers at Stockholm and Uppsala universities shows that middle-class parents often decline to consider schools with a more diverse student body.

The researchers conclude from the report, which is based on interviews with 5,000 parents, that this selection process is a contributing factor to creating increasing ethnic and class divisions between schools.

Sweden's free school system was introduced in 1992 and the country's state-financed schooling system has developed into one of the most market-orientated and competitive worldwide.

The system has recently been adopted in the UK and is similar to the charter schools system in the US, with funding tied to an individual student.

Somewhat uniquely, the Swedish system also allows for profits to be made by the firms operating schools. This feature of the system remains controversial in Sweden.

Story continues below…

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter here.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:52 March 20, 2013 by TG22
..." middle-class parents often decline to consider schools with a more diverse student body."

We want the best for our children...
20:24 March 20, 2013 by johan rebel
Exactly. About time schools were segregated, affording the bright and ambitious a proper environment to study and achieve their potential without classes being disrupted by the dim-witted and those whose parents couldn't be bothered to teach them even rudimentary manners, not to mention those who don't even speak Swedish.
20:56 March 20, 2013 by Logic_and_Reason
The free school concept was created to give people a choice of where to send their kids. Obviously, people naturally want to segregate themselves.
00:11 March 21, 2013 by Svensksmith
Will there be a bomb making class?
00:47 March 21, 2013 by rfmann
TG22: And, obviously, a more diverse student body isn't it.

rebel: Serious or not, I can't tell.
09:28 March 21, 2013 by TG22
@rfmann: Nop
19:00 March 22, 2013 by Iftikhar_Ahmad
Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.

The British Government is planning to make it easier to schools to "opt out" from the Local Authorities. Muslim children in state schools feel isolated and confused about who they are. This can cause dissatisfaction and lead them into criminality, and the lack of a true understanding of Islam can ultimately make them more susceptible to the teachings of fundamentalists like Christians during the middle ages and Jews in recent times in Palestine. Fundamentalism is nothing to do with Islam and Muslim; you are either a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam's teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys. They perform better in single-sex classes. The research is promising because male students in the study saw noticeable gains in the grades. The study confirms the Islamic notion that academic achievement is better in single-sex classes.


18:09 March 24, 2013 by Tabbycat
If Muslims can sent their children to State-funded schools, will Humanists, Atheists and Pagans, also be allocated their own schools which are free from the influences of Middle-Eastern mythology?
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