Education is a key to empowerment
Having an education has become increasingly important in order to be able to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by today's society. This applies not least to job opportunities. One of the Government's most important challenges is improving schools so that all pupils complete both compulsory school and upper secondary school with pass grades.
Schools must take a clear stance in favour of human rights and the democratic values that form the basis of our society. Schools must be felt to be a secure environment for children and young people, in which everyone is given equal opportunities.
There is great interest among Sweden's young people in higher education, and the proportion of pupils going on to higher education studies three years after completing upper secondary school is 40-45 per cent. However, this transition is taking more time and the throughput in higher education is too low. Earlier entry into the labour market is positive for both the individual and society as a whole. It is therefore important to find ways to encourage young people to begin their higher education studies earlier and complete them sooner.
Alongside the formal educational system, non-formal education, which is structured but takes place outside the formal educational institutions, and informal learning, which is part of everyday life, are important elements of lifelong learning. Much knowledge and skill that can have great significance for future life choices and opportunities is gathered via liberal adult education and clubs. International exchanges, voluntary activities and international project work are also important instruments of non-formal education and informal learning for young people.
The Government's most important measures in the area are:
The upper secondary school reform
The first pupils will enter the new upper secondary school system in autumn 2011. The new system will involve two new qualifications: a preparatory qualification for higher education and a vocational qualification. On vocational programmes, more time will be devoted to programme-specific and vocational subjects to better prepare pupils for working life. The preparatory programmes for higher education are also being amended to prepare pupils better for future higher education studies. Upper secondary apprenticeship training in cooperation with labour market actors is also being introduced. Over the period 2011-2014, the Government wants to invest a total of SEK 794 million in creating 30 000 apprenticeship places in upper secondary school.
In connection with the upper secondary school reform, the eligibility requirements for upper secondary school are also being tightened to create better conditions for pupils to successfully complete their education. The pupils who are not eligible for the national programmes will be offered special study programmes in the form of five introductory programmes that will replace the current individual programmes.
The new Education Act
The new Education Act covers education from pre-school to adult education. The Act is a coherent legislative act to provide a foundation for knowledge, choice and security in all forms of education and other activities covered by the Education Act. The Act will apply from 1 July 2011. For adult education, however, it will apply from 1 July 2012.
Security, school health and welfare services, and gender equality
A prerequisite for pupils to benefit from teaching and the right to education is that they are well and happy and feel seen, secure and appreciated. The Government has initiated a range of initiatives in this area, including a gender equality initiative in schools and measures to strengthen schools' work on core values. To make it possible to enhance school health and welfare services, temporary support in the form of a targeted government grant to school governing bodies is being introduced in 2012 and 2013.