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July 8, 2011

Swedish Homeschoolers Forced to Flee Their Homeland—Video Translation

This is an unofficial translation of the approximately two-minute report aired on Rapport, a Swedish television nightly news program.

Headline: “Homechooling—New Law Forces Move”

Announcer: And now in Sweden, it will essentially become illegal to educate children in the home when the new school law takes effect. Rapport visited a family that would like to continue with homeschooling and who is now considering emigrating. (Editor’s note: The Henrikson-Wallén has now fled Sweden.)

Voice-over: Alva, who is 12 years old, and Lion, who is 8 years old, have never attended school like other children.

Alva: It feels so much freer to be here inside and do a bit like I want to and move around, maybe for a minute or so...

Lion: My Mom teaches me pretty much a lot, and then there are books that teach me things, and I am also teaching myself.

Voice-over: The Henrikson-Wallén family lives a very active life, with travel, a large social network, running a business and a life far away from the normal 8 to 5. For these reasons, the parents have chosen to handle the education of their children by themselves.

Voice-over asking question of Cina: But, do you really know everything, in chemistry, Swedish and mathematics and so on?

Cina: Well, this is basic education level, grade 1 to 9 only, and the majority of the information needed is available, easy accessible if needed, and we can find it together, and if there is something I feel I lack competence in, then it is often not part of the required curriculum/educational standards. Rather, when we dig deeper into something, then we take advantage of external resources. It was because of the desire to gain greater knowledge that we got in touch with the Royal Technical University, because she (Alva) wanted to gain greater knowledge and understanding in the areas of natural sciences.

Voice-over: There are about 100 families who are homeschooling in Sweden. Some do it in cooperation with some school, where, for example, the children take the national standardized tests. Cina Wallén says that she is sure that it is the close, personal relationship between children and parents that is the key to the child’s curiosity and the desire to learn.

Voice-over asking Alva: But, don't you miss friends?

Alva: No, no, no, I have a tremendous amount of friends, I feel like I do not need any more.

Voice-over: But the new school law that is being approved by the parliament in June, essentially makes it illegal for parents who for religious or philosophical reasons choose to homeschool.

Jan Bjorklund, Minister of Education: It is not voluntary to attend school, there is a reason that Sweden as early as the 1840s introduced public education. Children have a right to attend school, and then there are a few parents, quite few, but they do exist, who think this is wrong, that this (education of the child) is something we are going to handle on our own. 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.

Voice-over: The Henrikson-Wallén family is pondering the future, and is even considering moving to another country.

Cina: Yes, we know of a family that has already left in exile to the Åland Islands in Finland. What I mean is that there isn’t anyone who is going to stop homeschooling, why would we do that? Why would we take away something that is working for our children?