Chain seeks state cash for ‘humanist schools’

Chain seeks state cash for 'humanist schools'
Akadamiet Bergen, the first of Akadamiet's private schools, opened in 2004. Photo: Akadamiet
Norway's largest private school chain has applied to open seven state-funded 'humanist' schools in the country, hoping to scoop up government funding available to Christian and Muslim religious schools.
Akadamiet, which launched with Akademiet Bergen in 2004 and now has six colleges, is jumping on the back of the approval won by Oslo's Humanistskolan, a junior high school founded by the University of Oslo research fellow Ole Martin Moen. 
Under Norway's education laws, private operators are only eligible for state funding for their schools if they can demonstrate a religious need for their school. 
Moen, whose 2012 PHD advanced hedonism as a life philosophy, successfully convinced Norway's Department of Education that parents with atheistic, humanist beliefs deserve to be treated the same as those with Christian or Muslim ones. 
However Norway's Christian Democrat party on Monday attacked Akadamiet's plans, arguing that its application was purely opportunistic. 
"All beliefs must be treated equally. However, these applications appear to be frivolous," the party's education spokesperson Anders Tyvand told Norway's NRK channel. 
He pointed out that the company had only last year applied to open a chain of government-funded Montessori schools on the same grounds. 
"It is not credible that they are first passionate Montessori advocates, and then suddenly burning for a humanist alternative," Tyvand said. "This is not about the parents' right to choose an alternative school for their children, which is the justification for the exemptions in the Act. These people simply want to run schools." 
Petter Arne Alvik, from Akademiet told NRK that his chain did indeed have strong humanist principles. 
"If we were just looking to run schools, could we simply have applied to start Christian private schools," he said. "That shows that we do not want to start schools at any cost, but only on the basis our principles." 

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