The Asp family is spending 10 months away from the Swedish district of Nacka and living in Thailand. The school that the two children attend there was denied Swedish state support, yet the district of Nacka pays the students' tuition.

Districts disagree over funding students abroad

A new trend for Swedish families to take extended vacations abroad has led to Thailand, as well as other far-flung places, to establish Swedish schools for their children. And some Swedish districts have been paying the tuition. But news agency TT reports that this can be illegal when the school doesn't have Swedish approval.

Swedish students abroad for more than six months normally have the right to attend schools that are getting Swedish state support. The issue is limited to schools that have not been approved for these grants.

The Swedish Authority of Local Districts and Regions worry about the quality of such schools, since they lie beyond the Swedish School Inspectorate's supervision. Now the Authority is calling for new rules to govern this practice.

Laina Kämpe from the Swedish Authority of Local Districts and Regions tells news agency TT, "According to district laws, tax money should first be spent within the districts or among the districts. Today, there is no grounds in the law for districts to foot the bill for (non-accredited) education abroad."

According to Per Olov Åkesson at the Swedish Schools Inspectorate, it is often up to the parents themselves to judge the quality of the schools.

But a local official in Nacka, one of the districts that financially supports these studies, defends the practice. "We have relatively strict regulations when it comes to paying tuition abroad," says Inger Bäcklund. "The parents pay initially, and then if we find that the requirements are met, we reimburse them later. The quality of the education can't be worse than it is in Sweden. We don't pay if the student hasn't passed."

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