In 1842, a law was introduced in Sweden which declared that everyone had the right to attend school. Every town and every borough were obliged to provide a school. Within five years, the primary school system would be expanded throughout the country, but it was a difficult and heavy task for the villages. It was a slow start. It was difficult to find teachers and premises. It was not until the 1880s that conditions became relatively stable. In 1882, compulsory schooling was enacted. All children had to go to school for four years and since there were more children than places in the school and teachers, teaching was spread out over the year for some pupils. It could be a couple of days a week, every other week, or every other semester. Because there were not enough trained teachers, many deaconesses started working in the school. They were often popular with the children because they held good lessons.
The children would start school around the age of nine. At that age, they would preferably already be able to read and write a little and know the basics of Christian knowledge.
There was a lot they needed to know that they did not learn in school. Most of which was learnt from adults and older siblings in the family. After they had learnt the basics, they could apprentice with someone outside the family.
Books were precious and unusual. The books that were found in most homes were religious ones: the Bible, the Catechism, and the Book of Psalms.
Parish Catechetical Meetings
Before the time of the primary school system, it was also important that people had basic knowledge in reading, writing, and, above all, Christian knowledge. Someone from the church, for example the minister, went round the villages at regular intervals and held house meetings, to ensure that they could recite their lessons.
The subjects that were taught in primary school were: reading, writing, arithmetic, Christian knowledge and biblical history, natural sciences, and song.
No food was served at school, but the children could bring their own packed lunches. Common foods to bring were flatbread sandwiches and milk.
Mark lives close to school. He only needs to walk a short distance along the high street from the shop and he arrives at the cross-street, Skolgatan (school street). His teacher is deaconess Anna "momma" Persson.
School in Örnsköldsvik
The borough of Örnsköldsvik belonged to Själevad's primary school district. The school was located next to Själevad's church, about 5 km from the borough. It was considered too far, and the borough people tried to arrange education for the children locally instead. As early as 1867, the issue of separating Örnsköldsvik from Själevad's primary school system arose.
The first house that the municipality bought was trader Fahlgren's farm at Skolgatan 7, in the year1873. Here they arranged school premises, a headmaster’s residence, and telegraph and meeting rooms. Today there is no school on Skolgatan but the name remains from the 1870s.
In 1898, the primary school building uptown was completed with room for 300 students. Up here there was plenty of space for teaching, games, and play.
The building you are in now was built as a co-educational school. In the autumn semester of 1905, the pupils flocked in for the first time.
Elin did not go to school. Children from the countryside rarely did in the 1820s. What they needed to know they learned from the adults around them. Some learned to read and write, others did not. It was important to know some religious things by heart, otherwise it was mostly practical knowledge that was needed. Running a farm requires knowledge of a many different things.
Nils has spent a few years at the Domsjöverk school. Only children of those who worked at the sawmill or in another of the mill's departments could go here. The schooling was adapted to suit the mill's need for labour. The school had a library.
Maria goes to school. She will go to primary school for 6 years and will probably continue her education, as her older sister thinks she should. These are new times and there are many more opportunities to do something other than what their parents work with.
For Theresia, it is difficult to go to school regularly because her family is constantly on the move. Some children in Theresia's family have to stay with an acquaintance for a while to be able to go to school, but it is not easy because the traveling children are often treated quite badly by the other pupils and sometimes by the teachers as well. Theresia therefore receives her education from her family. She's lucky because her grandmother has decided that Theresia will learn most of what the other children learn in school and a little more.
Primary school is compulsory in Sweden, but for Lars-Anders there will be no schooling. The public primary school has not been adequately expanded yet.