At the moment, Sweden is one of the rare examples in the EU with a stable political climate, great public finances, spending savvy citizens and optimistic enterprises. So far, so good. There is one critical variable though that should be and is raising concern among politicians and media. That of school and education.
Take a look at the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and you’ll see that the current economic situation in Europe is quite well reflected in the study results. Northern Europe is best in class, while the Southern and Eastern parts of the continent are more or less halting. For Sweden, it may not seem catastrophic to be an average performer at the moment but compared to the results from year 2000, one should get worried. If the trend continues, Sweden will perform below OECD average year 2020.
Some recent events have reinforced the image of the Swedish school system at a crisis. A greater administrative burden, less time for planning classes, low salaries and a tough working environment are some of the reasons that have led to many teachers leaving the class room to find another occupation. The Swedish education for teachers has been strongly criticized and factor in the elements above, this has led to a situation with only a few applicants for teachers’ education letting practically everyone in. At the same time, the Swedish engineering industry has started up own vocational education programs because the existing educational programs are inadequate for their needs. The most recent example of this is Volvo.
In a recent case of abuse, the charges were dropped against a pupil that had assaulted a teacher. The court decided that it’s an occupation similar to the police force where this kind of situations might occur. Furthermore, Swedish pupils more often hire help with their school assignments. In some of the low performing EU countries this has been a practice a long time and the pupils have been forced to either hire private teachers or pay bribes to reach good grades. Is Sweden heading towards a similar system and a school under average? Watch out Sweden, good luck smart growth and EU2020.