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Developments: Lobbying for special grants for adult education

According to the Swedish National Council of Adult Education (SNCA) and Studieförbunden (Swedish Study Association) the situation of adult education has stayed the same in Sweden over the last year. The general national funding for adult education has not increased in a few years, which in fact means that it is decreasing due to inflation.

In recent years Sweden has seen a trend in which local and regional funding diminished or was suspended. The lack of funding has caused an ideological debate about citizens' rights to free education, culture and "bildung". Short term grants were issued as compensation, but they don’t allow the associations to plan programmes with broad spectrum of educational activities and a sustained impact. EAEA members have lobbied for study associations and folk high schools to benefit from the support packages and for folk highschools to receive extra compensation due to their failing boarding. As a result of the lobbying, adult educators now also receive support packages that were previously only available for other sectors on the labor market.

Overall, major financial losses can only be noticed by those organisations dependent on other financing than grants (including course fees and income from boarding). Sweden is taking in a smaller number of asylum seekers which has resulted in decreased income from grants targeted at migrants.

Sweden takes the recommendations of the European Semester seriously

The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) is in line with most of the Swedish national policies. Sweden has had policies for free education even before the launch of EPSR. The Swedish government also takes the recommendations of the European Semester seriously. One of the recommendations addresses the large numbers of Swedish youth who are neither studying nor working. Adult learning and education is seen as one of the answers to this challenge. The reports of the European Semester also mirror the experience of the SNCA.

SNCA is not aware of any new policies in regard to Upskilling Pathways but there are some that foster the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are many initiatives, theme days, networks and conferences on how adult education can play an active role in implementing the SDGs. In discussions about funding with the Swedish government, SNCA has raised adult learning and education as a tool to further the goals of the Agenda 2030.