Half pupils flunk school in crime-hit Swedish districts

More than half the pupils in many of Sweden’s ‘specially vulnerable’ regions leave elementary school with no qualification, a study carried out by Sweden’s TT newswire has found.

Half pupils flunk school in crime-hit Swedish districts
Police at Bergsjöskolan in 2016 after six pupils were wounded in a knife fight. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
“We’re starting to approach rock-bottom when it comes to school inequalities,” Anders Trumberg, a schools researcher at Örebro University, told the newswire. 
“Very often, pupils have social problems which spill over into school, making it hard for teachers to focus on teaching and pedagogy.” 
Sweden’s police have classed 23 districts in the country as ‘specially vulnerable’, meaning a heavy criminal presence makes police work difficult and residents cannot rely on the criminal justice system. 
In a majority of schools in the Gothenburg’s five ‘specially vulnerable’ districts, TT found, less than half of pupils leave elementary school with a qualification. The situation is similar in Seved and Rosengård in Malmö, and in Stockholm suburbs like Husby and Rinkeby. 
In Bergsjöskolan in the Gothenberg suburb of Bergsjön, 69.8 percent of 15-year-olds finished the ninth, final class of elementary school without a qualification. And in Sjumilaskolan in the suburb of Biskopsgården 67.3 percent did so.
On average across Sweden, 17.5 percent of pupils fail to leave elementary school with a qualification. 
Trumberg said Sweden’s school choice system contributed to the problem by allowing students from less troubled backgrounds to avoid the worst performing schools. 
“It’s hard for today’s school system to handle the inequalities.  In practice this beings enormous consequences for individual schools which are quite simply drained of pupils motivated to study.” 
In many schools the situation has worsened over the past five years. 
Manne Gerell, a criminologist from Malmö University, said that those who fail to leave school with a qualification were much more likely to be drawn into organised crime, making it hard to break the negative spiral in these districts.  
“It’s about a pretty big volume of new youth coming in every year,” he said. “This of course makes it difficult to build a positive development in these areas.” 
Trumberg said there was no “quick fix” for the problem.  
“School is the arena where these inequalities become visible. But breaking the the underlying structural problems, such as child poverty, is not the responsibility of schools, but of labour market policy,” he said. 
“Society needs to work broadly and over the long-term in a huge number of different policy areas to turn the situation around.” 

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Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

Parents with Arabic-sounding names get a less friendly response and less help when choosing schools in Sweden, according to a new study from the University of Uppsala.

Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

In one of the largest discrimination experiments ever carried out in the country, 3,430 primary schools were contacted via email by a false parent who wanted to know more about the school. The parent left information about their name and profession.

In the email, the false parent stated that they were interested in placing their child at the school, and questions were asked about the school’s profile, queue length, and how the application process worked. The parent was either low-educated (nursing assistant) or highly educated (dentist). Some parents gave Swedish names and others gave “Arabic-sounding” names.

The report’s author, Jonas Larsson Taghizadeh said that the study had demonstrated “relatively large and statistically significant negative effects” for the fictional Arabic parents. 

“Our results show that responses to emails signed with Arabic names from school principals are less friendly, are less likely to indicate that there are open slots, and are less likely to contain positive information about the school,” he told The Local. 

READ ALSO: Men with foreign names face job discrimination in Sweden: study

The email responses received by the fictional Arabic parents were rated five percent less friendly than those received by the fictional Swedish parents, schools were 3.2 percentage points less likely to tell Arabic parents that there were open slots at the school, and were 3.9 percentage points less likely to include positive information about the municipality or the school. 

There was no statistically significant difference in the response rate and number of questions answered by schools to Swedish or Arabic-sounding parents. 

Taghizadeh said that there was more discrimination against those with a low social-economic status job than against those with an Arabic name, with the worst affected group being those who combined the two. 

“For socioeconomic discrimination, the results are similar, however, here the discrimination effects are somewhat larger,” he told The Local. 

Having a high economic status profession tended to cancel out the negative effects of having an Arabic name. 

“The discrimination effects are substantially important, as they could potentially indirectly influence parents’ school choice decision,” Taghizadeh said.

Investigating socioeconomic discrimination is also important in itself, as discrimination is seldom studied and as explicit discrimination legislation that bans class-based discrimination is rare in Western countries including Sweden, in contrast to laws against ethnic discrimination.”