Welcome to Sweden, one of the most advanced, safe, and attractive European countries. What should we know about the country where the Swedish language was not an official language until 2009? It is interesting that 89% of Swedish population speak English. Of course, it is the country of the legendary pop group ABBA, which gave the world such great hits as ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’, ‘The Winner takes It All’, ‘Mamma Mia!’, etc. Sweden is the country where every child would wish to live. First of all, all kinds of corporal punishments have been prohibited here for decades. We are sorry, dear parents, but even the slightest spanking is a violation of the law. Advertising to children under 12 years old is also illegal in the country. And the best part is yet to come. Students get 187 USD from the government a month to attend school. Yes, students around the world, somewhere in Sweden students do not only gain knowledge, but also earn some money because they go to school. What can be a better motivation?
How Is the Swedish School System Structured?
As we could see, Swedish students must be extremely motivated due to getting their ‘scholarship’ each month. But what do we know about schools themselves? How does the school system here look like? In Sweden children’s education is a top priority. The government of the country made school compulsory for all children who are 7 through 16 years old. Certainly, compulsory school does not charge tuition fees. The purpose of education is not only to give children the necessary knowledge, but also to enhance their harmonious development into contributing, responsible people and members of their communities. Education is needed to teach children to respect human rights and the fundamental values on which the society of Sweden is based.
Swedish School Structure
Pre-school, or förskola, is not obligatory in this country. Pre-school is sponsored by municipalities. Children can begin to attend pre-school when they turn one. Pre-school lasts for five years, until children become 6 years old. Their purpose is to provide an environment that stimulates children’s development and learning and allows parents to combine both parenthood and work or study. Since in most of the families both parents work full-time, 80% of Swedish children are enrolled at pre-school. Another reason why so many children attend förskola is that childcare is affordable for everyone in Sweden. In this case income is key. Low-income families are not charged tuition fees at all whereas more well-off families pay around €140 a month. The program at förskola focuses on children’s needs and interests and emphasizes the importance of play in their development. During the play, children learn the basic values such as cooperation and tolerance towards other people. At the age of six children begin to attend a one-year förskoleklass, or a pre-school class, which prepares them for compulsory education. This class is not obligatory, but every child is guaranteed to have a place in the class, so the majority of children attend it.
Compulsory School, or Grundskola
Compulsory school consists of two stages: primary and lower secondary school. In fact, this is called Grundskola, and it lasts for 9 years, from grade 1 to grade 9. Grundskola provides equal, high-quality education across the country. Its objective is to provide children with the platform of skills and knowledge they will use when they continue education. There are two types of schools in Sweden: municipal and private, or independent, schools. Most of the children attend regular, municipal schools. Yet, some parents prefer independent institutions because their orientation differs from that of municipal schools. All children can attend independent schools since they are approved by the National Agency for Education. In compulsory school children acquire skills and knowledge in the following disciplines:
- Mother tongue tuition
- Modern languages
- Physical education
- Home and consumer studies
- Biology, chemistry, and physics
- Swedish and Swedish as the second language
- Sign language for the hearing
Upper Secondary School
When children finish compulsory school at the age of 16, they receive their leaving certificates. At this point it is their decision to quit studying or continue their education. Upper secondary school is not mandatory. Yet, every municipality on the country must offer this level of education to all students who finished compulsory school. Currently there are 18 national upper level programs which last for 3 years. Six programs are designed for those students who plan to study at the university. Other 12 programs prepare students for vocational schools. Upper secondary schools do not charge tuition fees. To get enrolled to upper secondary school, students are required to have passing grades in Swedish, English, and mathematics from their compulsory school final year. Sweden is a great country to obtain a higher education degree because it is also free of charge. You can learn more about Swedish universities here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_universities_in_Sweden. Yet, students manage to graduate from universities with a rather big dept. The reality is that Sweden is a very expensive country to live in. The rent and food here are quite expensive, especially in cities like Stockholm. So, if you decide to come to Sweden to study at the university, you should keep this in mind.