High quality of education provides sufficient number of the intelligent people, good professionals, and decent cultural and economic level of life in the country. Crucial importance of the quality of education is proven by great attention it attracts from the other countries. There even exists the Education Index for each country that shows the population literacy and the percentage of the educated people. In such a way, education system is associated with the achievements and development of the country. The reforms taken in this sphere are also the evidences of the country orientation to grow culturally and economically, like in case with Sweden. The recent Swedish school reform of 2011 proves the school is aimed to raise the level of life by improving the knowledge of population and raising the status of a teacher.
Any education system comprises a number of essential aspects that ultimately form effective or ineffective schooling. The first important decision of the government considers the age when children should start their education. With regard to numerous psychological and age peculiarities, Sweden is one of the few countries that offer a flexible age of starting school. The age of the school beginners varies from six to eight years and lasts for 9-10 years. Attendance of the kindergarten is not compulsory. However, the municipalities have to provide such facility to the working or studying parents who have children of 1-5 years old. According to the law, school attendance in Sweden is obligatory for all children and young people between 7 and 16 “regardless their gender, social or economic factors” (Swedish Institute, 2013-2014). Compulsory schooling comprises four levels: elementary, middle, junior, and high schools. The senior one is not compulsory. The Swedish school year starts in mid-August and lasts up to mid-June. Among the main achievements of the Swedish students, the international studies emphasized the reading skills and high level of feeling safe among the students (SI, 2013-2014). Swedish, English, and Math are the subjects that demand passing grades to be accepted to a national Swedish program.
The funding for education in Sweden varies according to the educational level and establishment. The costs for school transport, materials, meals as well as the salary of the teachers vary between municipalities and schools. Compulsory schooling is free and completely funded by the public authorities. The municipal budgets are financed by taxes, fees, rents, and state grants. Governmental grants are limited and paid for the specific purposes, like stimulating the development of some areas, teachers’ training, out-of-schools centers development, or hiring extra-staff (SI, 2013-2014). Sometimes, the particular grants can become the general ones. The independent schools that provide the education that is equivalent to the municipal one can get governmental grants as well. However, the obligatory condition to get the right for it is the approval of the National Agency for Education. One more essential fact is that there exists a special Swedish equalization system that creates equal financial conditions for all municipalities throughout the country and provides equal funds to all schools. Pre-schools are mostly paid and offer the pedagogical group activities for children aged from 1 year. The higher education establishments are also paid, but partially funded by the government. The reform of 2011 has not implemented many changes into the system. However, it has improved the position of the teachers, provided new grading system of A-F grades, introduced new curricular promoting greater knowledge and freedom of choice to the students (SI, 2013-2014).
To sum it up, the Swedish education system provides citizens with profound possibilities to get background and higher education with a great amount of municipal and governmental funding. At the same time, the latest changes in the system provide evidences that the government put efforts to improve the level of people’s education and develop the country.
- Swedish Institute. (2013-2014). Education in Sweden. Sweden Sverige. Retrieved from: https://sweden.se/society/education-in-sweden/