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Education Minister Jan Björklund. Photo: SR International

International commission to do homework on Swedish school system

"You can't find all the answers in the PISA report"
5:05 min

Education minister Jan Björklund has announced three reforms to get to the bottom of why Swedish students are falling behind students in other countries.

At a press conference Tuesday Björklund said the government was to create an international commission to look at school standards in Sweden. The experts will be selected by the members of the OECD that are behind the regular PISA surveys. Swedish students have fallen behind in those surveys consistently over the last decade.

A national council with Swedish experts will also be set up, and a school research institute will also be established.

"We will get a higher standard of expertise if we recruit people from the whole world," Björklund told Swedish Radio News, "and they could tell us painful truths. The OECD has carried out similar investigations in other countries with good results" he added.

Teachers unions have welcomed the move, one union leader told news agency TT "Not a day too soon!"

Social Democrat education spokesman, Ibrahim Baylan, also welcomed the decision:

"It is very good that the government has backed down on these points", he told TT, "we proposed a commission and research council before, but they said no. It is clear that the Social Democrats are the driving force in Swedish education policy, but more still needs to be done."

The Green Party's spokesperson Gustaf Fridolin, is more critical of Björklund's school commission. He says it is very different from the broad political commission they have been calling for.

"We need a schools commission that gathers the researchers, the profession, the teachers unions, and the politicians so that we can get proposals of how to change to school system. This is new research and new research is always welcome, but this is not what is going to change the situation in Swedish schools," he says, adding that "the OECD already has done research about Sweden. It is called  PISA".

But the teachers unions have welcomed the proposal. Isn't it a good idea?

"Everybody welcomes research, also me. But we have research today that show that Swedish pupils don't get enough time with their teachers. Now we need political proposals of how Swedish pupils could get enough time with the teacher and the support they need to reach goals in schools. More research from the OECD is not going to change that. Action from the government does," says Fridolin.

According to the Greens, the crisis in Swedish schools need a broad political commission to agree on proposals, to provide long-term stability for the teachers and schools to improve the situations in the classrooms.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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