Homeschooling was legal in Sweden until 2010, when a new law was introduced by the Swedish parliament which banned homeschooling for all practical purposes. Jan Bjorklund, minister of education of Sweden, justifies this law as follows : “I maintain there is not a chance that parents could be able to teach every core competencies in all 16 subjects that are taught in public school, and that the public school offers children.”
Even before homeschoolings was banned, homeschooling families have been persecuted by the Swedish government. One of these families, the Johanssen family, had their child confiscated. Read more.
The Association for Homeschooling wrote a letter to the Swedish embassy in August 2009 and a letter to Swedish parliamentarians in June 2010. These letters can be read here on the website of the Association. In these letters the Association raised its objections against a law that will take away the freedom of Swedish parents to provide their children with a type of education that has a proven record of success. The adoption of the law is in conflict with art. 26(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations which states : "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children."
The Johanssen family was one of the families that were homeschooling their son Domenic, while homeschooling was still legal. After years of battling the social services over not sending Domenic to pre-school and not giving him the government’s “recommended” — though technically optional — vaccines, the family decided to move to India, the mother’s homeland. On 25 June 2009 armed police, at the behest of Swedish Social Services, boarded an airliner on its way to India from Sweden with the Johansson family and seized their 7 year-old boy, Domenic, for being (legally) homeschooled. There was no warrant, the Johanssons had broken no law. Since this date Domenic’s parents were only allowed short, 1 hour-long supervised visits once every five weeks, and Domenic still remains in state custody.
These actions by the Swedish government has caused an uproar under home schooling and human rights organisations in Sweden and all over the world, such as the website of the Swedish Association for Homeschooling and the Free Sweden website. A facebook group dedicated to returning Domenic Johansson to his parents already has more than 4500 members.
The U.S.-based Home School Legal Defence Association, the Alliance Defence Fund, the Nordic Committee on Human Rights, and others have been working ever since to get the case heard at the European level, since it appears that justice will not be obtained easily through Swedish courts. In February this year the European Union-based Alliance of Romania’s Families, a pro-family public interest group also proclaimed solidarity with the torn-apart Johansson family and urging the European Court to hear the case in a timely fashion. After nine months, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has finally assigned a case number to the application filed on behalf of the Johansson family.
The focus on homeschooling in Sweden brought the attention of the world to issues in Sweden that run much deeper. A Swedish government report released in 2009 revealed that half of all children who had gone through Sweden’s foster care system over the last 70 years had been sexually abused — in the system.
Political opposition against the ban on homeschooling is also increasing inside Sweden. The political leaders of three of Sweden’s youth organizations for the Liberal, Center, and Green parties critiqued the Swedish secretary of education’s policies defended homeschooling in Svenska Dagbladet, the largest national conservative newspaper in Sweden. “Unfortunately, [Minister] Björklund is under the illusion that he knows best the needs of all students in this country.” It’s almost a joke, they add, that he calls himself a liberal. Over the past five years, “he has blatantly ignored the rights and freedoms of the individual” when crafting education policies. Click here to read a translation of the complete article.
It is important that South African parents take note of the developments in Sweden, because Sweden is often regarded as a prime example of a successful welfare state, and socialist politicians are often inclined to follow the Swedish example. Influential African leaders, such as the successor of Robert Mugabe, dr. Sydney Tigere, have close links with the Swedish government. If South African politicians were to follow the Swedish example, this could cause problems for South African homeschoolers. To avoid the South African politicians do not follow the Swedish example, South African homeschoolers must become involved in initiatives to put pressure on the Swedish government to release Domenic and allow Swedish parents to educate their children at home.