The Namdar family were granted permission to home educate their children according to the requirements in the new more restrictive Swedish school law. This is a great success for the family and Swedish home educators at home and in exile are thrilled at their victory. It is a beacon of light in an otherwise very compact Swedish home education darkness. There are several unusual aspects to this verdict issued by the mid-level court, Kammarätten. The family was granted an oral hearing in Kammarrätten which is highly unusual in home education cases. They also managed to convince the court of the ”exceptional circumstances” which the new law requires. Finally the court accepted a non-Swedish international online school.
Is this a cause for a general optimism for home education in Sweden? No, I am afraid not. There has been a few other isolated victories in court during the last four years which have been turned down by a higher court. This verdict will probably be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court which only a few weeks ago turned down two very well documented cases of home education, and said yes to a €4600 fine for another well documented home education family. A fine which had to be payed within a few weeks to avoid a visit from the Swedish Enforcement Authority. The Swedish Association for Home Education – ROHUS – payed the fine from its Fine Fund.
The Kammarrätten has interpreted the Namdar family’s religious life style as ”exceptional circumstances”. While having consideration for the religious traditions of the family is an unusual and highly welcome development in Sweden, the Kammarrätten does not refer to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is Swedish law, nor to any other human rights documents. It simply states that it would be difficult for a school to cater for those concrete life-style requirements.
The Swedish Minister of Education, Mr Jan Björklund, has made it clear that he doesn’t want any home education in Sweden, and the Swedish Parliament is pretty much fully behind him in this matter. If home education is to become more generally possible in Sweden there has to be a clear shift in attitude in Parliment and in Government. There is no doubt Sweden will eventually get there, but we are not there yet. A victory for the Namdar family in the Supreme Administrative Court would be cause for a slight optimism. Not winning would put Swedish home educators back to square one, or even behind.
A dozen Swedish home educating families still live in exile, a few are still fighting in the courts in Sweden and Dominic Johansson is still in state custody.
The verdict in theNamdar case is amazingly positive in many ways, but still unclear if it will mean anything at all in general to the liberation of home education in Sweden. We congratulate the Namdar family and wish them continued success. ROHUS will keep supporting them and all other Swedish home educating families and work for a better future for home education in Sweden.
President of ROHUS
ROHUS - the Swedish Association for Home Education - is a religiously and politically unaffiliated organisation supporting the right to home educate in Sweden regardless of philosophy or motif, www.rohus.org. Today several of ROHUS board members live in exile outside Sweden.