Schools agency issues comic book warning

Sweden's Schools Inspectorate (Skolinpektionen) has warned that a campaign to distribute comic books featuring Donald Duck and Bamse the bear should be regarded only as complement to reading classes, pointing out that the backers are commercial companies.

Schools agency issues comic book warning

“Donald Duck and Bamse are trademarks and Egmont is a commercial company that wants to recruit readers. If the school is aware of it and the material matches the school’s values, then it is okay to use – but only as a supplement,” said Jonas Nordström at the agency.

Egmont is the Copenhagen-based publisher behind the campaign to promote the cartoon characters in Swedish schools to boost reading among a generation which spends an increasing amount of time in front of electronic screens.

The publisher has joined forces with the Swedish Comics Association (Seriefrämjandet) to distribute the reading material heavily discounted or free of charge to schools.

Egmont has however denied that the school’s initiative has a commercial purpose.

“We’re not doing this to make money. We want to stimulate children’s love of reading,” said Jonas Lidheimer, Project Manager at Egmont Kids Media Nordic.

Children in Sweden spend almost two hours per day in front of electronic screens of one form or another, according to a survey from August 2013 commissioned by Egmont and conducted by Novus Opinion.

TT/The Local/pvs

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Swedish chain banned from opening new schools for ‘serious failings’

One of Sweden's leading free school chains has been banned from opening new schools or otherwise expanding after the schools inspectorate identified "serious failings'.

Swedish chain banned from opening new schools for 'serious failings'

Thorengruppen educates 15,000 pupils in Sweden through its chain of primary schools, upper secondary schools, SFI language schools and professional training schools. It currently has applications outstanding to open 28 new schools or other educational establishments in the country. 

“We have judged that the shortcomings in the applicant’s existing establishments are so serious that in the current situation the conditions are not in place for them to run additional ones,” said Carin Clevesjö, the head of the inspectorate’s school permits division.  

According to Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT, the inspectorate discovered in the spring that pupils at the group’s Thoren framtid primary school in Älmhult had not received any tuition at all in Geography for two years, with schools in Sundsvall and Solna showing similar severe failings. The group has been ordered to pay a total of half a million kronor in fines. 

In its decision, the inspectorate said that this demonstrated that the company did not have the “wherewithal to follow the relevant requirements”. 

In an email to SVT, the group’s head of new schools, Christina Runesdotter, said it was wrong to judge the quality of the group as a whole from a few individual cases. 

“We consider that one cannot judge the quality of a huvudman [an entity responsible for a school] from individual cases,” she wrote. 

According to SVT, the inspectorate has rejected applications from the company in Munkedal, Ale, Östersund, Växjö, Södertälje, Nyköping, Karlstad, Halmstad, Falu, Eskilstuna, Helsingborg, Borås, Norrköping, Solna, Skellefteå, Uppsala, Gävle, Umeå Jönköping, Kristianstad, Sundsvall, Malmö, Västerås, and Lund.