UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Parliament House in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo: Pixabay

Sweden’s governing party pledges to abolish religious schools

Should they be re-elected in September, the Swedish Social Democrats announced that their education policy would eliminate gender and religious segregation in schools.

By Al Donato

Sweden’s ruling political party has promised a ban on all religious “free” schools, in what’s being seen as efforts to curb gender segregation in Muslim schools.

Most schools in Sweden are run by municipalities, but free schools receive government funding and are overseen by for-profit companies. Currently there are 71 religious free schools in Sweden, of which a majority are Christian and 11 are Muslim. The one Jewish school will be exempt from the ban.

Should they be re-elected in September, the Swedish Social Democrats announced that their education policy, which has yet to be endorsed by other parties or be introduced to Parliament, would eliminate gender and religious segregation in schools.

Sweden’s public administration minister Ardalan Shekarabi spoke against religious schools, which he attended in Iran as a child, and that he would “never accept that the oppression that I and many with me have fled from will find its way into the Swedish education system."

“In our schools, teachers and principals should make the decisions, not priests or imams,” he said at a press conference in Stockholm.

“School should be a place where children and young people with different backgrounds meet. Learning that students with different experiences learn to co-operate build cohesion and counteract splitting,” reads a party statement. “Separating pupils based on religion or gender is not compatible with the Swedish model.”

Gender segregation in schools has been hotly contested in Sweden’s national discourse. In 2016, a Muslim school was criticized by all major political parties for separating boys and girls during gym. The school’s gym teacher at the time defended the decision, citing how girls who wear veils may want to wear gym attire and can’t do so in the presence of their male peers.

As reported in a 2014 survey, Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the West. Its rising Muslim population has stirred polarizing debate over social issues like religious expression in the Scandinavian nation.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


Courtesy Aurora Coulthard

To those who said I'll only be respected as a minister because I'm pretty

by Aurora Coulthard

A young ministry student says Christians, both within and outside of the United Church, have discouraged her from following her call.

Promotional Image


Editor/publisher of The Observer, Jocelyn Bell.

Sharing a meal with friends is a radical act of gratitude

by Jocelyn Bell

"I’ve begun to consider that regardless of how I’m feeling on Thanksgiving Day, the very act of preparing and enjoying a feast is an expression of gratitude in and of itself."

Promotional Image


Meet beloved church cats Mable and Mouse

by Observer Staff

They're a fixture of Kirk United Church Centre in Edmonton.

Promotional Image


September 2018

Period poverty is a serious issue in Canada

by Angela Mombourquette

The high cost of menstrual products means many Canadians go without. Activists are seeing red.


October 2018

My church was literally dying, until we returned to prayer and confession

by Connie denBok

"No magic formulas. Just grace emerging through weakness."


October 2018

4 Canadians with disabilities on the challenges they've faced in the workforce

by Diane Peters

Of the 14 percent of people in Canada with a disability, only half are employed. Companies are losing out.

Promotional Image