Jonas and Tamara Himmelstrand home schooled their first child since he had chronic learning difficulties and had problems to attend the public school. Both Jonas and Tamara are both teachers/educators so well qualified for a job to home school children. They have had a very good experience with home schooling their son and wanted to do the same for their other two children, aged 13 and 7. But the municipality of Uppsala has given them a penalty fee of USD 26,450 (SEK 180,000) for home schooling their children without permission and neglecting to bring their children to the public school.
It has always been difficult for parents to legally home school children in Sweden, but since June 23rd 2010 it has been totally prohibited to do so, unless there are extremely valid reasons involved – such as the child being severely sick or both parents travelling – and then only for brief periods of time.
Jonas believes that the situation in Sweden is partly due to fear that parents will influence their children in certain extreme religious directions. That parents and/or children are not satisfied with the public school is not a valid reason to be allowed to home schools children. Jonas says that the only country with similar rules is Germany, and they have had their present system since 1938. According to a worker in the UN, it’s wrong with mandatory school attendance tied to schools alone.
Cecilia Fors is the Head of the Youth Department in Uppsala kommun, and says that the penalty fee is set high in order to make the parents reevaluate their attempt to home school their children. When asked why parents are not allowed to home school their own children, she says :
It’s not considered acceptable in Sweden. It hasn’t been possible ever since the mid 1800’s and it has been a success. We have progressed from a country in poverty to a rich country, much thanks to the school law enforcement.
(Based on an article in Dagen, January 25th, 2012)