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Sweden:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

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Overview Sweden

Contents

Sweden:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Sweden:Historical Development

Sweden:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Sweden:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Sweden:Political and Economic Situation

Sweden:Organisation and Governance

Sweden:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Sweden:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Sweden:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Sweden:Organisation of Private Education

Sweden:National Qualifications Framework

Sweden:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Sweden:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Sweden:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Sweden:Funding in Education

Sweden:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Sweden:Higher Education Funding

Sweden:Adult Education and Training Funding

Sweden:Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Organisation of Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Organisation of the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Assessment in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Sweden:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Organisation of Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Higher Education

Sweden:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Sweden:First Cycle Programmes

Sweden:Bachelor

Sweden:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Sweden:Second Cycle Programmes

Sweden:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Sweden:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Sweden:Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Distribution of Responsibilities

Sweden:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Sweden:Main Providers

Sweden:Main Types of Provision

Sweden:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Sweden:Teachers and Education Staff

Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Management and Other Education Staff

Sweden:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Sweden:Management Staff for Higher Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Quality Assurance

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Educational Support and Guidance

Sweden:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Sweden:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Sweden:Mobility and Internationalisation

Sweden:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Mobility in Higher Education

Sweden:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Sweden:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Sweden:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:National Reforms in School Education

Sweden:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Sweden:National Reforms in Higher Education

Sweden:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Sweden:European Perspective

Sweden:Legislation

Sweden:Institutions

Sweden:Glossary

Introduction

The current adult education system has evolved from a grassroots tradition of liberal adult study and education initiatives that date back to the early 20th century. Adult education should function as a system that enables adults to continuously develop and reorient their education on the basis of varying individual needs.  The state and municipalities have the overall responsibility for providing the infrastructure for lifelong learning, but there are many forms of adult education in Sweden, both formal and non-formal. 

Formal adult education

Brief historical account

When the system of municipal adult education (Kommunal vuxenutbildning, Komvux) was established in 1968, liberal adult education still dominated the educational opportunities for adults. Increased skills requirements in working life and formal eligibility requirements for admission to further, or higher, education became crucial in the establishment of skills-enhancing adult education and training separate from liberal adult education offerings. Three main reasons were stated in the initial government bill for the establishment of municipal adult education and training: reducing the growing educational inequality in society, creating opportunities for individuals to supplement their schooling and providing the labour market with a well-educated workforce. 

Municipal adult education was set up to provide adults aged 20 and above with skills at levels corresponding to compulsory school. Sweden has established a legal entitlement to basic adult education for all Swedish residents who are at least 20 years old and have not completed secondary education. Consequently, the legal framework obliges municipalities to ensure sufficient provision of adult education to meet learners' demands and needs. Municipal adult education is regulated by the Education Act and the Ordinance on Municipal Adult Education. A new curriculum for adult education was adopted in 2012.

The Education Act (Skollagen 2010
The Ordinance on Municipal Adult Education (Förordning om vuxenutbildning 2011
The curriculum for adult education (Läroplan för vuxenutbildningen 2012

Current policy priorities

Proposal to improve tuition in Swedish for immigrants
The government proposal “Increased individualilsation – more efficient Swedish for Immigrants and adult education” (Ökad individanpassning - en effektivare SFI och vuxenutbildning) suggests a move of the responsibility for the Swedish courses to the authority for municipal adult education. Municipalities will continue to offer part time education as well as evening classes, and all students should have the right to an individual study plan and assostance from a guidance counselor. The changes are proposed to enter into force 1 January 2016 and be applied from 1 July 2016. 

Non-formal adult education

Brief historical account

The word ’folkbildning’ is often translated as liberal or popular adult education, and the term, liberal adult education, will be used in this text. However, the specific conceptual foundations of ´folkbildning´ extend beyond what is suggested by the term adult education. ’Folk’ means ’people’ and ’bildning’ means ’enlightenment’. Swedish liberal adult education developed at the beginning of the last century when the level of education was low, and large groups of the population were excluded from higher education. There are always people who, for various reasons, need alternatives to the formal educational system. Here, folk high schools and study associations have their most important role, based on the fundamental right of all citizens to knowledge and development. Liberal adult education is a part of the non-formal education sector and is free from detailed national control. This freedom, like the strong ties to the non-profit sector, makes liberal adult education a force of societal change. Every year, several million Swedes participate in liberal adult education activities. In study associations and folk high schools, opportunities for lifelong learning are provided through a rich offering of courses and educational programmes – everything from study circles where a small group meets a few times in their leisure time up to multi-year, full-time courses of study at folk high schools.

Swedish liberal adult education is largely financed through funding grants from the state, county councils and municipalities. There is a broad political consensus that the state should provide economic support to liberal adult education. The state grant system for folk high schools was established as early as 1872. State grants for study associations date back to the library reforms of 1912. The parliament has established objectives for the activities. They can be summarised such that the activities of liberal adult education shall:

• support activities that contribute to strengthening and developing the democracy,
• contribute to making it possible for a greater diversity of people to influence their life situation and create participative involvement in societal development,
• contribute to bridging educational gaps and raise the level of education and cultural awareness in society,
• contribute to broadening the interest for and increase participation in cultural life.

Within these overarching objectives, the study associations and folk high schools are free to shape their own immediate aims and activities. The conditions for government funding for liberal adult education are expressed in the Ordinance on Governmental Grants to liberal adult education (Förordning om statsbidrag till folkbildningen 2015). The Ordinance came into force 15 May 2015 and will apply to grants for 2016. The 2015 Ordinance repeals the 1991 Ordinance on government grants for adult education. 

Current policy priorities

New aims and evaluation system for liberal adult education 
In June 2014 the parliament passed a new policy on liberal adult education, focusing mainly on the clarification of the differences between the goals of adult education and the wider concept of liberal adult education. Liberal adult education was previously subsumed under the overarching national goals for adult education but has now been given a specific national goal:

"Liberal adult education should give everyone the opportunity, together with others, to increase their knowledge and level of education for personal development and participation in society." 

The law (Allas kunskap – allas bildning 2013) also presents a new model for the evaluation of liberal adult education and its outcomes. The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has been given the task to coordinate the evaluation. The law, (Allas kunskap – allas bildning 2013) is available, in Swedish only.

Other Types of Publicly Subsidised Provision for Adult Learners

Investment in education for the newly arrived
Starting in 2014, immigrants covered by the law on introduction activities for certain newly arrived immigrants (lagen om etableringsinsatser för vissa nyanlända invandrare) have the opportunity to take part in specially designed courses at folk high schools. The courses incorporate several different elements aimed at facilitating the individual’s establishment within the community, including Swedish-language tuition and job preparation guidance and activities. The total budget for the initiative is SEK 280 million during the years 2014-2017.

Art- and culture education replaces supplementary education 
A new form of post-secondary education, art- and culture education (konst- och kulturutbildningar) were introduced in autumn 2015, replacing supplementary education (kompletterande utbildningar). The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education is the permit authority and distributes state grants to the programmes. For more information, in Swedish only, see The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för Yrkeshögskolan). 

Increased diversity in vocational education through recognition of prior learning
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education is introducing a project to investigate the effects that recognition of prior learning has on diversity. By recognising a candidate’s skills, the Agency hopes to broaden recruitment and increase diversity in the workplace. The Agency also aims to create national methods for recognition of prior learning in vocational education through an economic incentive. The scheme started in the autumn of 2015. For more information, in Swedish only, see the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för Yrkeshögskolan).