The Swedish school, degraded by a market logic, has become a counter-model

The Swedish school, degraded by a market logic, has become a counter-model

The Swedish school, degraded by a market logic, has become a counter-model

To analyze. The Swedish school is doing badly. Before the legislative elections scheduled for Sunday 11 September, the political leaders may not agree on the solutions, they all make the same observation. Each year, 16,000 students leave college without being able to enter high school. The differences in level between the establishments are constantly increasing. There is a lack of qualified teachers everywhere.

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The Swedish school system, considered one of the most successful and egalitarian in the world just thirty years ago, is now viewed with a mixture of repulsion and disbelief. In 2013, the PISA (Program for International Learning Assessment) survey, published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), highlighted its dysfunctions: the level of Swedish young people in reading, mathematics and science had collapsed . It has increased slightly since then, but educational inequalities have widened.

To understand this evolution, it is necessary to go back to the end of the 1980s. The Swedish school was then still very centralized. Its organization and financing depend on the state. Institutions have little autonomy. Another peculiarity: they are almost all public. In 1992, only 1.1% of primary and university students and 1.7% of high school students were enrolled in the private sector.

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Despite its good results, this system was then increasingly criticized for its lack of pedagogical diversity and for the little freedom of choice it left to parents. While the country’s public finances were in the red, the social democrats in power decided to decentralize education: from 1989 primary and secondary education fell under the responsibility of 290 municipalities, despite the opposition of the trade unions in the teachers.

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When the right came to power in 1991, it introduced a second reform, that of “Friscolo” – “free schools” – with the aim of putting an end to the quasi-monopoly of public education, with the introduction of a “control of education . Imagined by the American economist Milton Friedman, cantor of neoliberalism, he comes in the form of an envelope, financed by the municipalities and assigned to every student, regardless of the institution where he is enrolled, to cover his schooling expenses. With this money the schools pay teachers, administrative and local staff.

During the first few years, the amount of the “education voucher” is 15% lower in the private sector. When they returned to power in 1994, the Social Democrats brought him to the same level of public opinion in the name of equality: parents must be able to choose to enroll their children wherever they want, regardless of their income. It is up to the Municipalities to establish the amount of the allowance, which can vary from simple to double. Private schools can settle wherever they want, as long as the school inspectorate gives them the green light. They are also allowed to make profits.

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