Swedish government wants to ban mobile phones in classrooms

Should there be a blanket ban on mobile phones in classrooms? That’s what the Swedish government would like to see, according to a new bill by the education ministry.

Swedish government wants to ban mobile phones in classrooms
Sweden's Schools Minister Lina Axelsson Kihlblom. Photo: Lars Schröder/TT

“There should be order in each and every classroom,” Schools Minister Lina Axelsson Kihlbom told a press conference as she presented the new proposal on Friday morning.

The bill would ban the use of mobile phones during lessons, unless the teacher specifically instructs the students to use them for learning purposes.

Today, teachers do not have the right to pre-emptively make students give up their mobile phones unless they are actively being used in a way that disrupts teaching.

Many schools in Sweden, however, have policies in place where students are able to voluntarily hand over their mobile phone when they enter the classroom.

“Teachers shouldn’t spend their time debating whether or not a mobile phone should be put to the side,” said Axelsson Kihlbom.

The government also wants the law to make it clearer that teachers may physically intervene if, for example, a disruptive student refuses to leave the classroom.

The bill follows a series of other bids to revamp Swedish education. The government also recently proposed that municipalities should be able to cut free school funding, and that free schools should not be able to use queue time as a selection criteria.

According to the TT news agency, it is unclear whether there’s enough support in parliament for the latter two proposals, but Friday’s bill may get the backing it needs. If approved, it would come into force on August 1st.

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Swedish watchdog closes two Islamic schools for radicalising pupils

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate has revoked the permits for two Islamic free schools in Uppsala and Stockholm, after the country's security services warned pupils were at risk of radicalization.

Swedish watchdog closes two Islamic schools for radicalising pupils

On Thursday, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate announced that it had revoked approvals for the Imanskolan Foundation and the Framstegsskolan Foundation, based on warnings from Sweden’s Säpo security police. 

Säpo had complained about both the management at the schools and the learning environment, judging the school leadership unsuitable to conduct school activities.

According to Säpo, students of the schools are at risk of exposure to extreme Islamist ideology.

“Säpo have assessed that children risk being exposed to radicalization by staying in an environment that advocates creating enclaves in society instead of respect for human rights and basic democratic values,” The inspectorate wrote. 

The announcement of the closures comes just months after a proposal for stricter controls on religious free schools.

In February, Schools Minister Lina Axelsson Kihlblom stated that while a ban on new religious free schools would not be put forward, stricter controls would be established through the introduction of a  “democracy clause” or demokrativillkor.

“The proposed law will create clearer requirements and stricter rules for confessional [religious] preschools, schools, and after-school clubs,” said Axelsson Kihlbom.

More than 200 students at the Imamskolan primary school in Uppsala will be forced to change schools for the autumn term. At Framstegsskolan in Stockholm, about 90 students are affected by the shutdown. 

The decision, which may be appealed, currently applies from 15 and 17 August 2022.

by Kirstie Hall