Social Democrats' Almedalen focus on education

Winding up the Almedalen week of intense politics on the island of Gotland, Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven put the focus of his speech on education.

Taking on the government, and especially the Liberal Party on its key issue, the opposition leader said if his party wins next year’s election they’ll fund 1000 new special education teachers for the lower grades of elementary school.

That is in addition to the party’s previous proposal for 4000 new regular teachers for grades 1 to 3. Löfven is proposing SEK 3 billion for the plan, of which SEK 500 million would fund the special ed project.

The aim is to reduce class size, to strengthen schools with serious problems, offer tutoring for all students, for higher quality preschools, and to start an educational research institute to investigate the effects of headstart programs, help for newly arrived students in the country, and reading ability.

The Social Democrats want to set a new goal that all students should be able to read simple texts by the end of first grade.

Löfven started his speech, however, by talking about employment and criticising the government’s performance. “The prime minister’s actions,” he said, “can be divided into two categories, retreats and reruns. And he spends an unwarranted amount of time trying to explain away youth unemployment.”

“In 2002 we Social Democrats went to the polls under the slogan ‘proud but not satisfied’,” Löfven said. “In 2014 the government apparently will go under the slogan ‘satisfied but not proud.’”