It has been reported that Jonas Himmelstrand, president of Sweden's Home Education Association ROHUS, has left the country with his family in the wake of continuing persecution from the Swedish authorities. The Himmelstrands have taken refuge on the Finnish Aland Islands along with other exiled Swedish home educating parents for whom life had become intolerable under the totalitarian state regime.
Himmelstrand's proactive stance on home education and outspoken criticism of Swedish social policies had brought him a growing international profile but also resulted in a sustained state sponsored campaign of victimisation and 'legal' threats against his family.
Commenting on the family's decision to leave the country, Himmelstrand said:
”It is an incredible relief, and only now are we starting to understand the degree of pressure we have lived under for many years. At the same time it is an almost surreal experience to be forced to leave Sweden for an issue which in most of the democratic world, and by the UN, is regarded as a human right.”
The high profile case of Domenic Johanssen, kidnapped from his family by state social workers at the age of seven, and many other reported incidences of parents being heavily fined and children removed from families, all serve to illustrate the lengths the Swedish authorities were prepared to go even before 'homeschooling' was effectively outlawed by new legislation which came into force last year.
Using a Nazi law as a precedent to impose compulsory school attendance marks Sweden out as profoundly anti-democratic, placing it at odds with every other European nation with the exception of Germany. Lest we forget, it was Hitler who introduced a compulsory schooling law in 1938 to ensure the state had complete control over young minds. Anyone who has watched the Sound of Music will know what happened next.
Most home educators in the UK were never taken in by the so-called Free Schools model in Sweden which the present Conservative led UK government has seemed so keen to emulate. When there is no opt-out from schools, free or otherwise, and the state goes around rounding up those who seek to educate by other means, why not just call them prisons or concentration camps? Then again, forked tongues are a speciality of politicians regardless of party persuasion or stated commitment to self determination.
Schule über alles? Nein, danke. While we won't be visiting this nation of Neeps any time soon, we all need to keep an eye on the much bigger picture if we want to retain our freedoms.
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Tuesday 13th March 2012
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