I spent a week in Stockholm, Sweden, last May, working on a project on the Swedish education system. Being a journalist in a foreign country posed a few problems, especially since I was not with the rest of my class as I had been when reporting the European Parliament in France. I don’t speak Swedish, which was difficult when trying to find information online and stay informed with the news. I didn’t know much about institutions or parliament, which was a problem at first. The Swedes were so nice, although this project didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned, I had a great time getting to know the country and diving into an issue that affects all Swedes with children. I learned about free schools in Sweden through a Swedish friend, who told me what a scandal it was causing in parliament. Free schools take the role of a private school or a specialized arts school would here in Canada, but they are free, as the name suggests. Although they used to work well, there has become a type of elitism that goes along with them. People don’t want their children to go to the “regular” public schools, so they go out of their way to get their kids into the “best” free schools, even if it means a huge commute to school. But since they are owned by private companies and have little accountability, how good they are is only based on grades, which many argue aren’t done fairly. When business gets involved, the school becomes about getting more students, and making more money. The Swedish state gives a subsity to schools per student, meaning the more students, the more money.
I wrote two stories about the issue, one about the segregation that the system inevitably causes, and another about the trials and tribulations of trying to educate children when profits are involved.
To read about segregation, click here.
To read about profits, click here.