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August 10, 2010

Homeschooling Conference Encourages Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish Homeschoolers

Last month, an international homeschooling conference held in Telemark, Norway allowed the presidents of three Nordic homeschool associations to meet for the first time: Juhani Paavolainen, representing Suomen kotiopettajat (Finnish Home Educators), Marianne Johansen, representing NHUF—Norsk hjemmeundervisningsforbund (Norwegian Homeschooling Association), and Jonas Himmelstrand, representing ROHUS (Swedish Association for Home Education). This is an encouraging step in the growth of homeschooling in the region, especially as recent news has highlighted the increasingly difficult situation for homeschoolers in Sweden.

Hosted by NHUF, the conference was well-attended by 26 adults and 30 children. The three presidents discussed the ramifications of the newly passed Swedish education law, as well as the foundation for homeschooling freedom. The conference featured Dr. Christian Beck, prominent homeschool authority from the Institute of Educational Research at the University of Oslo, and Marta Straume, who is involved in training teachers in Norway to appropriately supervise home educators. In addition, world-renowned Canadian psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld presented a lecture entitled, “Homeschooling and Developmental Science.”

The Swedish education law passed in June 2010 will only allow homeschooling in Sweden under “exceptional circumstances.” The “exceptional circumstances” clause effectively means that families who apply to homeschool in Sweden will almost certainly receive a definite “no,” no matter the circumstances. The law has sparked speculation that Swedish homeschoolers may choose to emigrate to nearby countries.

The current situations in Finland and Norway stand in stark contrast to neighboring Sweden. In Finland, the constitution itself protects the right to home educate. Similarly, the law in Norway stipulates only a learning obligation—children are required to receive education, but they do not have to attend school to fulfill this requirement.

HSLDA is involved in supporting a number of court cases of persecuted homeschoolers in Sweden. These include the notorious case of Dominic Johansson, who was taken into custody by Swedish authorities while the family was emigrating. HSLDA and ADF have filed a lawsuit over this case in the European Court of Human Rights. HSLDA is also supporting a number of families who are appealing the denial of permission to homeschool and who have been fined amounts ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

 Other Resources

Please visit the ROHUS, NHUF, or Suomen kotiopettajat websites to learn more about the conference or homeschooling in these countries.