The Stubborn Persistence of Gender-Segregated Education in Sweden

The two news videos below are from the Swedish state broadcaster SVT. In them several education officials discuss a religious school (friskola, “free school”) which has persistently refused to obey the edicts of education authorities to hold classes in which boys and girls are not segregated.

The reports don’t specify the religion of the school’s administrators. They may be Unitarians, or possibly Buddhists.

Many thanks to FouseSquawk for the translations, and to Vlad Tepes and RAIR Foundation for the subtitling.

Video #1:

Video #2:

Video transcript #1:

00:02   Yes, exactly how that has looked every day for 22 years I cannot answer,
00:07   but from our information, they have instituted separate education
00:12   in this school for a long time.
00:17   Girls and boys are educated separately.
00:22   School inspection was able criticize this after the teaching plan was written in 2018.
00:27   In the directed target supervision decision we made after the 2019 visit,
00:33   after the new projections in the teaching plan came into force, we also directed criticism
00:38   at the school for the gender-segregated activities.
00:41   But how serious is it for them to conduct gender-segregated lessons
00:45   in a Swedish school for 22 years?
00:49   So we cannot…
00:53   This is a…
00:57   This is not a difficult question. How serious is this? Is it serious or not?
01:03   So, as I said, we have a partially new projection in the teaching plan,
01:13   and we cannot retroactively criticize a school for a state of things
01:18   that was implemented before the new rules were put into force.
01:23   In a supervision in March 2019, criticism was directed at the school for gender-segregated education.
01:28   In a supervisory decision in March — one year later — the school was still dividing the lessons.
01:34   It is serious that they have not fully addressed the shortcomings we identified.
01:39   Now they have until August to answer for this, and we should then see
01:42   whether or not they have done anything to correct the shortcomings.
01:46   Then there are other tools we can think about concerning which pressure measures,
01:51   such as school inspections, are needed so that the school will follow the regulations.
01:56   Do you think you have taken responsibility for the pupils’ equal education?
02:00   It isn’t the school inspectors who should have to take responsibility for equal education,
02:04   without the school having to take responsibility that pupils get an equal education.
02:08   We have issued sharp criticism to the school. We have laid an injunction.
02:12   We assume that the principal will take the helm
02:15   And in this case, the rector and principal have stated to us
02:20   that they intend to change the group division. We assume that will happen.
02:25   SVT Nyheter West has attempted several times to contact the leadership of Römosse School without
02:28   receiving an answer. —No interview. —They don’t want to answer questions?. —No, absolutely not.
02:33   Not even by phone? —No [unintelligible].
02:37   Why don’t we get any answer? —They don’t want to.

Video transcript #2:

00:07   I think that dividing girls and boys is really not OK.
00:11   Violence and oppression based on honor thrives in this context.
00:16   We must take it seriously, so that all children have the right to grow up
00:20   as free and equal people in Sweden, both boys and girls.
00:23   From an equality perspective, they get a very slanted picture of life in Sweden.
00:28   This is deeply undemocratic and a big problem.
00:32   That is why the school inspectors should urgently open an audit again.
00:38   If that doesn’t happen, the government must speed up strict legislation.
00:44   Politicians want the Römosse School closed
00:48   The Liberal party wants to forbid new religious free schools from starting school operations.
00:52   In January, the Liberals pushed through an agreement that religious free schools
00:57   will not be allowed to expand their operations. There will be a stop to that.
01:02   And there is a legislative suggestion that has been submitted for consideration and is ready
01:07   and waiting to become a proposition, and it is time now to move ahead.
01:12   Social Democrats don’t want to have any religious free schools whatsoever.
01:15   Otherwise we will continue to have a division of boys and girls —
01:18   impermissible influence of religion, gender-segregated education —
01:23   more difficult to integrate into society and learn the language. This is dangerous.
01:26   This is dangerous for children and dangerous for society overall.
01:36   It is remarkable that an authority, on one hand, criticizes,
01:42   and sees that measures are not taken,
01:47   and still gives permission to start up. That suggests that the law is insufficient.
01:53   Otherwise, the authority would not have done so.
01:56   Have you ever visited the school?
01:59   No, I have had many other visits I have chosen to make.
02:04   No, I have not. — Have you wanted to visit the school?
02:07   No, but I should do it. I will really do that.
02:10   SVT West has attempted to contact school leadership
02:13   several times, but without receiving a response.