Government to ban all religious charter schools
The Swedish Social Democratic party, which leads the minority government, vowed to ban all religious charter schools in an effort to tackle the country’s growing segregation as a result of taking in a record number of asylum seekers.
The proposal for a complete ban on any religious teachings in any Swedish school is not yet backed by the majority of parliament.
The leading member of the Social Democrats, Ardalan Shekarab described Sweden’s divide amongst children as driving the country apart:
“We have to knock down segregation to keep Sweden together…school segregation must therefore also be broken down,” he said.
According to israelnationalnews: The proposal is not backed by the majority of the parliament at this stage, as most of the charter schools are Christian.
The announcement is largely seen as a symbolic move six months ahead of the September 9 general election.
Shekarabi, who is the minister for public administration, said his party, the nation’s largest, hopes to gain voters’ support on the issue in the poll.
Out of the 71 primary and upper secondary (for students aged 16 to 18) religious charter schools — five percent of all charter schools in Sweden — 59 are Christian, 11 are Muslim and one is Jewish.
They receive state funding but operate independently.
A Muslim primary charter school in Stockholm triggered outrage last year for separating boys and girls on a bus and during sports lessons.
“Teachers and pedagogues should be in charge of a Swedish school, not priests and imams,” Shekarabi said.
Omar Abu Helal, principal at an Islamic charter school in southern Sweden, slammed the proposal as “a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights” and “the freedom of religion”.
The expected main issues during the election campaign are health care, education, and immigration in Sweden which has registered around 400,000 asylum requests since 2012, or one for every 25 inhabitants, a record in Europe.
Sweden has lost track of over 27,000 asylum seekers who failed to be granted citizenship and receiving expulsion orders from the country, 4,5000 of them were children.
A total of 223 underage asylum seekers have now been reported missing following the expulsion orders in January and February this year alone.
Thousands of others have literally “disappeared” in recent years according to Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
According to SputnikNews some of the “lost” children remain in the country as vagrants, whereas others turned to other EU countries in search of asylum.
Acting Children’s Ombudsperson Anna Karin Hildingson Boqvist said this trend was worrying, calling for more measures to prevent children seeking asylum from “missing.”
“The situation is extremely acute. All children who disappear need to be sought after. It is important that there is clarity over who bears responsibility for a disappeared child, and it applies to both unaccompanied minors and children living in a family.” Boqvist said.
When a child goes missing, search procedures are initiated immediately by the police.
However, this doesn’t always apply due to the lack of national guidelines for children undergoing asylum procedures.