Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Sweden has a well-developed educational system for children, young people and adults. This is partly reflected by the fact that more than 70 per cent of the adult population participate in some form of education during a 12-month period. Primary, lower secondary and upper secondary school is free of charge, and attendance at primary and lower secondary school is compulsory. Postsecondary education is also free of charge. Access to university and university college studies, without an upper age limit, creates a lifelong opportunity for higher education. The level of education in Sweden is high and has risen sharply in recent years. About half the population aged 25-64 has upper secondary education as their highest level of education.
The Education Act (2010:800) prescribes that everyone is to have equal access to education in the school system, irrespective of geographic residence and social and economic conditions. Education in schools is to be equivalent. The main task is to provide all students with sufficient knowledge in order to manage future studies and working life. For students with certain disabilities and who find it difficult to participate in ordinary teaching, other types of schools are available. In a global perspective, most goals may be considered fulfilled.
However, there are important challenges nationally. These include the fact that all students should have the same opportunities for learning regardless of conditions and background. International measurements of knowledge in Swedish and mathematics showed a downward trend in the results of Swedish 15-year-olds between 2006 and 2012. However, this downward trend was broken in 2015 when the results improved somewhat. An international measurement of adults’ basic skills in literacy, numeracy and problem solving with the help of a computer or internet, showed that Sweden does well in comparison with other participating countries. However, there were great differences within the population in Sweden between, for example, those with low and high levels of education. Boys generally achieve poorer school results than girls. At the same time, girls and young women, who generally achieve better school results, experience mental ill-health to a greater extent than boys and young men. This constitutes two important challenges.
In summary, the challenges include increasing the equivalence of schools, increasing the number of qualified teachers, improving the quality of teaching, raising the level of learning outcomes and ensuring that education and learning environments are accessible and are able to include all students on the basis of their needs and conditions.
Sweden’s development cooperation adopts a holistic approach to learning with a focus on national education systems, including teacher training of good quality. In this cooperation, Sweden is to promote an equivalent and inclusive education of good quality at all levels, for all people and throughout life. Particular attention is given to education in conflict and post-conflict situations and in humanitarian crises, where women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Swedish support in the area will continue to have a significant focus on gender equality and equality.