More and more worried Swedish parents are fleeing Sweden due to draconian homeschooling laws introduced in 2011 when homeschooling was basically made illegal.
Many have fled to the Finnish island of Åland where homeschooling is legal. Åland is located between Sweden and Finland and Swedish is the official language on the island.
Authorities on Åland have registered a new record number of homeschooled children, with 67 children being schooled at home. This is up from only 8 homeschooled children in 2012, and a majority of the children are Swedish.
Homeschooling is legal in most European countries, but Sweden is among the few countries where it is illegal.
The Himmelstrand family is one of many families that have left Sweden for Finland to homeschool their children. Their oldest son showed signs of autism and homeschooling proved to be very successful for him. Their daughter was also taught at home with no problems.
However when their youngest son was to start school in 2011, the family was denied permission to homeschool, and they say that child protective services warned the family to “leave the country” to protect their children.
Due to the threat of child protective service potentially taking their children, the family decided to flee Sweden. This was not the end of their troubles however.
Two years after the move to Finland, the family had to pay SEK 100 000 ($10 451) in fines to the Swedish government because their children had been homeschooled. They managed to pay the massive fine thanks to generous donations.
Sweden has something called “School duty” which means that all children have a duty to attend school. This differs in Finland where children have “Education duty”.
The Swedish Minister for Schooling of the ruling Socialist party told SVT that she thinks it is right to have homeschooling illegal.
“School exists so that children can get knowledge, but also so they can learn how to interact with other children” School Minister Anna Ekström said.
However the chief of schooling on the island of Åland thinks that homeschooling is working well, saying that their experiences are good, with only a few exceptions. The reason for this is because the parents are engaged in their children’s education.