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EDUCATION

Surge in applications to start free schools

The Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has received 36 percent more applications to start independent 'free' schools or to expand existing institutions for the autumn term of 2011. The agency received 689 applications by March 31st, the end of the 2010 application period, compared to 506 in 2009.

Surge in applications to start free schools
Photo: Claes Gertsen/Scanpix (file)

A total of 405 applications involve the creation of new schools, with 226 for elementary schools and 179 for secondary schools. The other 284 applications are for expanding existing schools, primarily for secondary schools that want to provide more programs.

“We are very surprised by the surge and have no good answer for the reason behind it,” Schools Inspectorate statistician Fredrik Uhrzander told The Local. “The number of applications has increased for both primary and secondary schools and applies to both new establishments and the expansion of existing operations.”

Most of the applications come from the three major metropolitan areas: Stockholm county (149), Skåne county (113) and Västra Götaland county (105). The agency received applications to establish at least one new secondary school from all counties except for Jämtland.

“The three metropolitan counties showed the largest increase in numbers compared to last year, but in percentage terms, the share of applications from several other counties increased significantly,” Uhrzander told The Local.

The agency will now send the applications to the relevant municipalities for consultation. Applications regarding secondary schools are also sent to neighbouring municipalities. The municipalities’ opinions, which should be included in their submissions to the agency by June 22nd, will include how the proposed school will impact the municipalities’ education systems.

The School Inspectorate will decide on the applications in the autumn. Most of the applicants will be notified before the end of the year. Of the 506 applications received last year, 32 percent were fully approved. There is a tendency toward a slight increase of refusals compared to the past, particularly for high school applications.

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HEALTH

Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

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