Education is an important election issue. Primary schools in Sweden have almost one million students, high schools more than 350,000. Most schools are municipal. One in ten is charter school, that is, private. Primary and secondary education costs around 14 billion dollars a year.
But every year many children and young people leave school with inadequate knowledge. For example, 9 percent finish primary school with a failing grade in at least one of the core subjects (Swedish, English, Mathematics). So all parties want to give schools more resources, and work against segregation. The clearest issue that divides them is grading. The center-right parties want grades in schools are an earlier level. The Liberals and the Christian Democrats underline the need for more discipline. The non-Socialist parties and the Greens want more private schools.
The government, along with the Left and Greens, is working to fight segregation in schools. The schools with the most problems will receive more than 30 million dollars over the next two years. Schools in segregated areas will be able to hire 1000 new employees. Funds will also be given to municipalities to operate summer schools for children with problems in school. These parties do not want grades in lower classes, they believe the current system of parent-teacher talks is satisfactory.
But while the Social Democrats and the Left want to main restrictions on private schools, they believe companies should not profit from education, the Greens want more so-called “free” (charter) schools. On this point the Greens have more in common with the opposition than with the government.
The opposition Alliance wishes to:
- Introduce grades at an earlier level and in several steps (only the Christian Democrats are specific, they want grades from 6th grade)
- National goals in Swedish starting in third grade
- Obligatory national exams in third, fifth, and eighth grade
The Liberals want report cards to include written evaluations of students’ behavior, and the possibility of educating girls separate from boys. The Christian Democrats want written evaluations from first grade (similar to grades) and want truancy to be indicated on report cards.
Home Language Instruction
The Social Democrats, Left, and Greens are in agreement that schools should receive funding for lessons (in math, for example) in the students’ native languages, and that the home language instructors should have certificates.
Otherwise, the Social Democrats and Left want to keep schools as they are today. The Green Party, on the other hand, wants all children in primary school to have a right to home language lessons, not just where the requirements are fulfilled (the law demands that there be a suitable teacher and at least 5 students in the municipality who want instruction, and that the children have a basic knowledge of the home language).
The Christian Democrats also want high school students to have a right to home language lessons, and that municipalities shall be required to provide instruction even if there are less than 5 children who want it.
The Center Party wants that schools with a good experience in teaching regular subjects in other languages than Swedish should function as hosts for students from other schools so that they can receive this instruction as distance education.
Note: In the case of Sami, Tornedals Finnish, and Romani students, municipalities are responsible for providing home language instruction even if there are less than 5 students. Education in these languages, which are national minority languages, shall be held even if they are not the students’ daily language.