Adult Education in Sweden

What is meant in the country when you talk about Adult Education?
There are two categories of Adult Education in Sweden non formal and formal

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning

Non formal adult Education is called Folkbildning and refers to Folk High Schools and Study Associations, i. e. the organizations that constitute the liberal non-formal and voluntary educational system in Sweden. Swedish Non Formal education is often translated to English as liberal or popular adult education, but Folkbildning has a specific conceptual foundation beyond the term “adult education”. Folkbildning exists for everyone in society, but should primarily reach out to adults with little formal education.

Formal Adult Education

The public adult education system comprises of municipally run adult education (komvux), adult education for the intellectually disabled (särvux) and Swedish for immigrants (sfi). There is also advanced vocational education and training (KY) as well as supplementary educational programs.

What is typical for Adult Education in the country?

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
For over a hundred years non formal adult education has played an important part in building the Swedish society. Since the first study circle started in late 1800 people have gathered by own free will and on equal terms to increase their knowledge together. The essence of which has been tolerance for different opinions, solidarity and respect for united decisions. Non formal adult education has therefore been a fundamental democratic force.

Formal Adult Education
The municipally-run adult education system was established in 1968. The aim of basic formal adult education is to help adults gain the knowledge and skills they need to take part in society and working life. It is also meant to prepare adults for further study.

The aim of upper secondary formal adult education, on the other hand, is to help adults gain knowledge and skills that correspond to the levels set for young people at upper secondary school.


Legal Basis

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
Decree on Government Subsidies to Folkbildning (1991:977) last revised in 2007.

Formal Adult Education
Municipal adult education comes under the Education Act and the Municipal Adult Education Act (2003).

The Higher Vocational Education Act entered into force 2010.


Responsible public bodies/ministries

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
Ministry of Education
Maria Arnholm Minster for equality – and deputy Minister for Education

Formal Adult Education
Ministry of Education
Jan Björklund, Minister for Education, Deputy Prime Minister


Relevant umbrella associations and national (service) organizations

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
The Swedish National Council of Adult Education is a non-profit association with certain authoritative tasks delegated by the government and the Swedish Parliament.

Study Associations: The Swedish Adult Education Association (SAEA) is the umbrella organization for the study associations.

Folk High Schools: The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions

The Interest Organization for Popular Movement Folk High Schools (RIO)

Formal Adult Education
Swedish National Agency for Vocational Higher Education


Providers of Adult Education

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
Ten study associations, each with its own distinct profile.
150 folk high schools.

Formal Adult Education
Schools and training centers, sometimes in cooperation with the non-formal study associations


Finances

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
Folkbildning is largely financed through joint tax funding, where the government sets forth overall objectives for the activities.

Formal Adult Education
State funding and municipal funding


Participation rate

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning (2014)
Approximately 281,000 study circles
Approximately 1, 7 million participants in study circle activities each year.

The folk high schools have approximately 71,000 students every term.

Formal Adult Education
Formal adult education is organized both by the state and by municipalities. The main five forms are

  •         Municipal adult education  (komvux)
  •         Basic adult education
  •         Secondary adult education
  •         Special adult education adapted to special needs
  •        Swedish adult education for immigrants

 

Topics

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
Study associationsThe intention of non-formal adult education is to adjust courses and study circles to suit the participant’s demands, needs and experiences. In non-formal adult education democracy is important and the participants have much influence on what and how to learn. 61 percent of the study circles have esthetical subjects as art, music and media.

Folk high schools: The folk high schools have courses on various levels with various emphases. The long-term courses last from 1–3 years.The folk high schools also offer many specialcourses, such as those in music, media, craftsmanship,theatre, languages, preventative healthcareand tourism.

Formal Adult Education
Mainly basic skills – mathematics and language, natural sciences and vocational training

 

Staff

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
Study Circle leaders can get some training through the study associations. 
Folk High School teachers can be qualified at some universities

Formal Adult Education
Teachers are trained and qualified by Teachers High Schools and some universities

 

Quality System/insurance

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
Validation is traditionally not a part of non-formal adult education but is being discussed. Some study associations use ISO - standards to ensure their quality standards as providers.

Formal Adult Education
The systematic municipal quality control of the adult education has been lacking in respect of validation and has been criticized by the National Agency of Education responsible for inspections of the quality standards.

 

Latest Developments/main problems in the discussion

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
The non-formal adult education has not got equal conditions over the country due to big differences in municipal support. In some parts the associations experience a need to increase their finances by competing on the commercial education market.

Formal Adult Education
July 1 2012 the formal adult education system is suggested to be reformed if a new educational law is decided and implemented.

 

Relevant Links

Non Formal Adult Education – Folkbildning
www.folkbildning.se
www.studieforbunden.se
www.rio-org.se
www.folkbildning.net
http://www.regeringen.se/

Formal Adult Education
www.regeringen.se/
www.skolverket.se
www.komvux.se

 

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