Charter school license for sale on Blocket, Sweden’s eBay

A permit to start a charter school has been put up for sale on Blocket, Sweden's equivalent of eBay.

"If you want to avoid all the red tape for the ambitious and serious project of starting a school, this is a fantastic opportunity," EU Commerce, a brokerage representing the seller, told prospective buyers.

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The advertisement said that more than a year had gone into obtaining the licence for the Malmö Enskilda Grundskola, and that the buyers would accept offers starting from 50,000 Swedish Kronor ($72,000).

The permit would allow the buyer to run a primary school in the city of Malmö for up to 180 students, from Autumn 2012.

The discovery of the ad has caused a minor scandal in Sweden, whose population is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the profits, from state funding, made by companies operating Friskolan, as charter schools are known.

“This is totally unacceptable,” said Jan Björkland, Sweden’s Education Minister. “I am extremely alarmed that someone who sought and received permission to operate a school is acting like this.”

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Sweden’s decision to open up education to private providers in the 1990s, has come under question since December 2010, when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment.

This showed that Swedish students had dropped to 19th place out of 57 countries for literacy, to 24th in math, and to 28th in science. This compares with 9th, 17th and 16th, respectively in OECD studies done over the previous ten years.

The schools operated by private companies have, however, proven popular with students and parents, and tend to outperform state-run schools in national ranking.

The ad was pulled from Blocket on Monday following a public uproar. 

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