Sweden Bans Homeschooling: What would Pippi Longstocking say?

Educational Freedom Takes Another Hit: Sweden makes homeschooling illegal

Our homeschooling friends in Sweden have suffered a major blow: On June 22, 2010 the Swedish Parliament effectively wiped-out the ability of families to choose homeschooling except under “exceptional circumstances.” Swedish homeschoolers explain why this is so bad on their website:

The writing on homeschooling in the new law is basically the same as in the old law. The law requires a fully satisfactory alternative to school and that the authorities can look into the homeschooling. However, the new law adds a third requirement: "there must be exceptional circumstances". Lawyers have told us that “exceptional circumstances” in a Swedish juridical context means as close to a definite "no" as you can get, regardless of the circumstances.

Also in the motivational text of the law, which explains how the new law on homeschooling is to be interpreted, the following can be read:

"Current school conventions make it clear that the education in school shall be comprehensive and objective, and thereby be created so that all pupils can participate, no matter what religious or philosophical views the pupil or its legal guardian/s may have. In accordance with this it is the opinion of the Government that there is no need of a law to make possible homeschooling based on the religious of philosophical views of the family."

Page 523 in Prop. 2009/10:165 (Swedish Government proposition)


So with the stroke of a pen we see how one’s religious and philosophical views are viewed as subjective baggage that government bureaucrats can dictate to be discarded and left at the door of government schooling. I’m surprised that Swedish alternative schools didn’t kick up more of a fuss about how this law will affect them, but my understanding is that they, too, are of recent vintage in Sweden and therefore are not that well established as a political or social force.

My contacts in Sweden have indicated they will probably move to Great Britain next year, which recently dodged it's own bullet to educational freedom (see my earlier entries re. The Badman Report), when the law takes effect, so they can continue homeschooling in accordance to their religious and philosophical beliefs. Swedish homeschoolers note that their government hates bad publicity and hope that an international outcry might shame the government into repealing or not enforcing the law.

The fierce independence and unconventional philosophical views of Pippi Longstocking, one of Sweden's most famous fictional characters and an autodidact, certainly seem diminished in light of this law. Indeed, a modern-day Pippi would have to flee to a country with more educational and personal freedom than Sweden in order to have her adventures now. Perhaps we should encourage all homeschoolers to boycott travel and goods from Sweden until they allow families the educational freedom to raise and teach their children in accordance with their religious and philosophical views?