A comparative study of the issue of education of the indigenous populations in Sweden, Canada and Australia, 1850-2000
The educational policy towards minorities within a society can be regarded as an important indication of how the authorities view these minorities and their position in society. This has certainly been true for indigenous populations, who generally have held a subordinate position in society, a fact which also influenced the education they received. Thus, the issue of education is a central aspect in an analysis of the relationship between the state and indigenous groups, a fact which is a starting point of this project. The aim of the project is to compare the educational policies of Sweden, Canada and Australia towards their indigenous populations, which effects they had, and how the indigenous groups reacted to these policies, 1850-2000. The ambition is to bring the historical analysis up to the contemporary situation, in order to shed light on the importance of the historical roots for how the policy area is shaped today.
The study will be carried out in two phases. During phase I, a historical analysis of the development of the issue of schools and education for the Sami population in Sweden, and of how the Sami reacted to this development, will be carried out. Phase two of the study is a comparative analysis of the educational policies of Sweden, Canada and Australia towards their indigenous populations. The image of these indigenous groups, how they were viewed in public policy, will be central for the analysis. The research results from phase I will be presented in the form of articles in Swedish, and from phase II in the form of a monograph in English. The project is important on two separate levels. First, the results of the analysis will add empirical knowledge about the history of Sami education and strengthen the research situation concerning contemporary Sami history. Secondly, through the comparative approach of the project, both specific developments within each country as well as more general trends in the treatment of indigenous populations will be uncovered. This differentiation between the specific and the general will be important for future research.