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Home Education Clampdown in Sweden

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In the wake of the World Service programme about the home education clampdown in Europe, Education Otherwise has been in touch with Jonas Himmelstrand who is President of Rohus, the Swedish National Association for Home Education.

Jonas is happy for us to share the following comments on this article from Lifesite news:

"Criminal charges" - not really "criminal", but probably fines more often than today and maybe in higher amounts. Up until today a few Swedish home educating families have charged with fines between GBP 1000-4000. However, the new school law does allow for imprisonment as a possible charge for breaking the school law. This law could be used to make home education a crime. In the current school law this is impossible. Also there are signs that the social services will get more involved with children not coming to school for whatever reason, home education included.

"Socialist government" - our present government is not socialist, it is a centre-right coalition government, although the whole Swedish political culture could definitely be called socialdemocratic. But the political party which seems to be the most against homeschooling is not the Social democratic party, but the Liberal party in the current centre-right coalition.

"State schools" - Not all schools in Sweden are formally state schools. We have a system of "free-schools". That is schools run by private businesses or cooperatives and which get money from the state for every pupil they have. But they have to follow the same rigorous rules as state schools, so there is something to term "state schools". This system of schooling is what some British politicians are interested in. This does not need to include our present governments view on home education.

Homeschooling was not the only issue regarding taking Dominic Johansson in custody by the social services. But having read the court verdict with all the issues, there stills seems to be no reason for this severe action. The young boy has most likely been much more hurt by the custody action than the conditions in his family. One cannot avoid the thought that the prejudices and lack of knowledge about homeschooling, could have been the pivotal reason for the custody action.

The rest of the article is correct. It is a strange situation that an outspoken Liberal party has harmed homeschooling more in two years than previous governments have in last 50 years. The Swedish Association for Home Education - Rohus - has written an extensive consideration on the new school law explaining many misunderstandings and predjudices, but the Ministry of Education took no notice of this. Rohus is a politically and religiously unaffiliated organisation working for home education to be allowed in Sweden.

If all goes to plan the new law will be in effect from July 2011. But Swedish homeschoolers have organised themselves probably better in the last two years than all other years in Swedish history combined. The new law will be tested and we will have it brought to the European Court. The resistence will be strong. In the last six weeks there has been more in the media about homeschooling in Sweden than ever - all because of the new school law. So, trying to forbid homeschooling in Sweden has actually given birth to a conscious movement to preserve the right and expand it. People who have never been into politics are lobbying their politicians and getting together. This could be seen as the first freedom movement of the knowledge society."

Food for Thought:
Home Education for Teenagers

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