The National Secular Society reported on the Swedish government’s plans to end “free” religious schools.
Sweden’s ruling political party is proposing elimination of publicly-funded religious schools within its manifesto or the upcoming election in the Fall of 2018. A press release published by the party, the Social Democratic Party, stated, “Religious influence has no home in Swedish schools.
The Social Democrats want school to provide all children with a good education regardless of their background, gender or religion.”
There are more than 70 religious schools in Sweden with the majority being Christian, 11 as Islamic, and a few are Jewish. The Abrahamic religions dominate the publicly-funded dollars for the religious schools.
They are run the local authorities within Sweden as the are publicly funded. The policy would be applied to the publicly funded schools, where they would be required to follow the guidelines given by the government.
The National Secular Society commented that this should be a reminder for the politicians in the United Kingdom to think similarly about tackling religious schools within their own borders.
“We often hear that it's too hard to take on religious interests in our education system,” the National Secular Society’s Education and Schools Officer, Alastair Lichten, said, “but this is a reminder that it's both desirable and possible to roll back their influence. Politicians in the UK should take note.”
The National Secular Society has been at the forefront of the campaigning for an open and inclusive system of education with a transition from faith schools in the public system to their elimination as they comprise as much as one third of the publicly-funded schools in England and Wales.
The Scottish and Irish schools are continuing to have sectarian divides that are split by a line drawn by religion.
The Swedish Minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education, Anna Ekström, noted that religious influence in public schools is not acceptable. That faith or not is the choice of the child alone.
Ardalan Shekarabi, the Minister for Public Administration, spoke of Iranian upbringing and the oppression that they did not want to come into the Swedish public school system, where these could be seen in the religious or faith public schools in Sweden because, obviously not in the same but similar way, the schools are promoting and foisting religion or faith onto children without consent.
One Islamic headmaster has openly expressed a desire for a Sharia Law to be allowed in a new school, though state governed. There has been a ruling that gender segregated sports lessons in the Islamic schools “were potentially discriminatory.”
“The regulatory framework will be tightened. Those who do not support fundamental values around equality and human rights should be stopped from running free schools in Sweden,” Gustav Fridolin, the Swedish Minister of Education, said, “No child should be exposed to direct or indirect compulsion to take part in religious activities in any school in Sweden. And all education should be completely free of religious influence.”
Photo Credits: PhotoShelter / Warwick Gage Photography