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EDUCATION

‘Extend compulsory schooling’: government

The government wants to extend Swedish compulsory education to ten years, in certain cases eleven, in hopes of boosting the numbers of students who go on to high school.

'Extend compulsory schooling': government
File photo: Altemark/Flickr

The new proposal, revealed on Wednesday, would require students to start school at age six rather than the current age seven, bringing compulsory education to ten years instead of nine. Currently, most six-year-olds are enrolled in an non-compulsory year of "preschool class" (förskoleklass) following the completion of preschool and prior to starting grade one.

The government would also like to introduce an additional year – making it a possible eleven years in school – for students who lack adequate grades to go on to upper secondary school programmes equivalent to high school in other countries (gymnasium).

The proposal also included plans to make summer school compulsory for certain students. 

"The more time you practice, the more you learn," Education Minister Jan Björklund said at a press gathering. 

The government would like the reform to come into effect by 2018, if elections later this year do not scupper that ambition. The proposal said that obligatory summer school could be mandated for students by grade eight, when Swedish pupils are about 14, to make sure their grade-nine marks are strong enough to allow them enroll in high school, which is not obligatory in Sweden. 

At this time, it remained unclear whether the government planned to enact all planned reforms simultaneously if it retains power after the elections.

"Summer school and an extra year will, by my estimate, go faster, but to admit six-year-olds in first grade will take longer," Bjröklund said. 

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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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