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EDUCATION

Swedish teachers feel least valued: OECD

Half of Swedish teachers would not choose the same profession if given the choice again, a new study revealed, and only five percent think their work is appreciated.

Education has been one of the most debated topics in Sweden lately, particularly after Swedish students' scores plummeted in international tests. But a new OECD study revealed that the problem is double-edged.

The Teacher and Learning International Survey (TALIS) asked teachers in OECD countries about their views on their jobs. 

Sweden landed at the very bottom when it came to rating a career in teaching. Only France and Slovakia had worse results. Only one in twenty Swedish teachers thinks that their profession is appreciated in Sweden. 

The average for OECD nations was 31 percent, and the highs were found in Malaysia and Sweden's neighbour Finland, where 59 percent of respondents said their job was highly valued.

The OECD has concluded that the degree to which teachers feel appreciated can have an impact both on recruiting and the desire to stay on their chosen career path. In other words, Sweden's future looks grim.

"Most people in Sweden today agree that we must increase proficiency in our schools, and most agree that the quality of instruction is something we need to focus on," Skolverket (the National Agency for Education) general director Anna Ekström said in a statement about the report.

"This examination does not give a direct explanation for the sinking Pisa test results," Ekström added. "But it does give important clues."

The TALIS results also revealed that only 53 percent of teachers in Sweden would choose the same career if they could start over. The OECD average is 78 percent. Some go even further, with 18 percent of teachers expressing regret over their career choice – even though nine of ten also said they liked their current positions. 

Swedish Education Minister Jan Björklund said the results may be rooted in adjustment to school reforms from two decades ago. In 1991 Swedish schools underwent a reform where chief responsibility for the educational system was transferred from the state to individual municipalities.

"It's a known fact, but of course it's worrying. It's quite the hassle with municipalities as employers," Björklund told news agency TT. "The profession's status decreased significantly during the municipalization period in the beginning of the 1990s, and it's a failure for municipalization."

Another recent OECD evaluation concluded that teacher salaries in Sweden are too low – another potentially harmful factor. 

"In higher-performing countries, teachers have higher salaries but also clear career possibilities," Andreas Schleicher, OECD Deputy Director of Education and Skills, said at the time.

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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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