Sweden— security guards at school

by Inger Enkvist

cc. Swedish professor Inger Enkvist regularly publishes in various media on the current situation at Swedish schools. The “Chronicl” in “Svenska Dagbladet” contains an example of the reasons why Sweden’s economy is increasingly encountering problems to find suitable personnel, despite large investments in schools and despite politicians competing publicly for the best school reform.

The newspaper “Dagens samhälle” published an issue on the topic of schools on 12 April. The big news is that more and more schools need a security guard because of violence. The article lists schools from northern to southern Sweden, in which, as a measure, they started to close doors and to attach identification stamps to the clothes, and in which the playgrounds are walled in so that external persons cannot enter the school area. Because society does not attack the problems in the broader sense, schools must protect their organisation and their premises. This costs money in the form of alterations and staff.
When it comes to the connection between school and violence, a distinction has to be made between two contexts. One of them is the one just described, namely external persons trespassing on the school, threatening and devastating it.
Violence also occurs, however, because in today’s schools an educational principle – called “integration” – is applied – which entails far-reaching consequences. Another consequence is, that the individual pupil’s right to attend a regular class is, in practice, higher than other pupils’ right to effective teaching. Step by step, special classes were abandoned and pupils with all kinds of problems were integrated into regular classes, regardless of the consequences.
On 9 April, the newspaper “Nacka-Värmdö-Posten” picks up the case of a lower school pupil, who uses several adults being occupied one after another only to prevent this pupil from attacking others. It has now been determined by the Working Environment Authority that two “retreat ways” are necessary for the adults working with the pupil and that objects that might be used to strike must not be near the pupil. It must be possible to call security guards. Who benefits from integrating this pupil? How can the other pupils, parents and teachers trust a school that works like this? This is an extreme case, but there are other examples.
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Incidentally, on 13 April an article was published in the business section of the newspaper “Svenska Dagbladet” about the fact that now not only industrial companies are moving out of Sweden, but also service companies. Anna-Karin Hatt, deputy director of Almega [Sweden’s leading organisation for service companies], describes the situation as acute and says that qualified service companies are silently moving away. The reason is that no suitable employees can be found. How should pupils in Sweden, learning in a disorderly and violent environment, acquire qualified knowledge?
How can quality be maintained if the money saved for schools is used up to deal with violence and damage? Nowadays, Sweden is an example of a country with a well-financed education sector, which, however, does not guarantee the country’s access to well-trained employees. The “Svenska Dagbladet” article points out that global competition is tough. Global companies simply cannot survive in a country where there is no competent workforce. Can we agree on the need for radical changes?     •

* Inger Enkvist is Professor Emeritus of Spanish at the University of Lund in southern Sweden. She has published numerous books on Spanish literature and culture as well as on educational issues in Spanish and Swedish. In her work on Swedish school reforms she expresses clear criticism (De svenska skolreformerna 1962–1985 and personal data, 2016, ISBN 978-91-7844-954-5). For years she has been demanding a better quality of school teaching in Sweden. Enkvist explores how different countries shape their education system and what Sweden can learn from them.

Source: “Utflyttning i det tysta vittnar om en akut situation.” In: “Svenska Dagbladet”, electronic edition of 15. April 2018

(Translation Current Concerns)