Developments: Swedish folkbildning continues to be active in policymaking
Overall, the situation for adult learning and education hasn’t changed much since the previous year, except for some improvement for the folk high schools. There were no new adult education policies introduced in Sweden.
The Swedish term folkbildning refers to the folk high schools and the study associations, i. e. the organisations that constitute the liberal non-formal and voluntary educational system in Sweden. There is a strong political support for folkbildning in Sweden and a joint understanding that it is important.
The Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) has established overall objectives for folkbildning. The Swedish folkbildning shall:
- strengthen and develop democracy
- make it possible for people to influence their life situation and create participative involvement in societal development
- bridge educational gaps and raise the level of education and cultural awareness in society
- broaden the interest for and increase participation in cultural life.
Based on these objectives, the study associations and folk high schools are free to shape the goals of their activities on their own.
In Sweden, the civil society has an active role in the design and implementation of adult learning and education policies. Adult learning organisations are involved in the CONFINTEA VII process, but it’s uncertain whether they are part of the national delegation.
Sustainability is considered important, but the practical implementation of sustainability varies substantially in the adult learning sector. The Folk High School Teachers’ Union has a strategy to promote sustainability in their work procedures and is obliged to make an annual report on sustainability measures.
More general funding needed
Swedish folkbildning is largely financed through funding from the state, county councils and municipalities. There is also funding for projects and programmes aimed to deliver certain learning objectives and earmarked funding for certain student groups. There is need for improvement though. According to the Folk High School Teachers’ Union, there has been a mismatch in the funding and the assigned tasks for the past 25 years. More general funding would be needed to improve salaries and working conditions of the educators.