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SWEDISH SCHOOL REFORM ACT OF 1950

The passage on May 26, 1950, by the Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen) of the Swedish School Reform Act of 1950 (Royal Proposition No. 70 of February 3, 1950, concerning lines of guidance in the development of the Swedish School system) climaxed, with reference to elementary education in Sweden, more than a century of progress since Sweden's first compulsory education act of June 18, 1842.

The first section of the Reform Act provides that "Measures shall be taken to introduce, within a period to be later determined, a 9-year compulsory comprehensive school, designed-insofar as the projected experiments demonstrate its expediency- to replace the elementary school, continuation school, the upper elementary school, the municipal middle school, and the realskola (lower secondary school).

All-round experiments shall be carried out concerning suitable forms of work for the comprehensive school, as for instance concerning differentiation of the pupils and the curriculum into lines of study in view of differences of bent among the pupils, concerning the work inside the school, and concerning the acceptance of pupils into the comprehensive school on the basis of a school maturity examination. Experiments shall also be conducted with different forms of practical middle schools.

The comprehensive school shall comprise 3 levels of 3 years each. Instruction at the lowest level shall, as a rule, be in charge of primary school teachers trained for service in classes 1-4; on the middle level in charge of middle school teachers with training for classes 3-6; and on the highest level, classes 7-9, in charge of subject teachers. Instruction in English shall begin in the fifth class. Preparatory trade instruction shall be given in class 9.

The following summary of the first few paragraphs of the introduction to the Royal proposition as presented gives the underlying educational philosophy not only of the School Reform of 1950 but also of much of the long-range educational development in Sweden:

Public concern with reference to education can never be limited to present needs. Instruction given at our teacher training schools should be the basis also for work one generation ahead in the schools of the future. It is not enough that 2128299--52---2

10 years.

young teachers be prepared for work in the present school system, as far as possible they must be made familiar also with the development of the school system, its most immediate future goal, and with the changed demands that may be placed upon them by a reformed school system. The many school buildings to be constructed during immediate years, must, even they, serve the instructional needs of one or more generations to come. They must be planned with the future in mind as far as school conditions can be foretold in order to avoid poor invest. ments. The municipalities need to know the intentions of the State concerning education in planning for their local organization problems of various types. For the State it is no less necessary to understand clearly the trends of educational development and at the right time to formulate its goal, that is one of the assumptions in order that public expenditures in the different fields of activity may be weighed against each other and in line with public resources.

Demands for long-range planning in education were made long before our time. Already in the so-called "Committee of geniuses” which presented its recommendations in December 1828, C. A. Agardh pleaded for such procedure. In his final statement he complained that the committee had limited its efforts too much to immediate needs. It should have asked itself what was back of the uneasiness of the time concerning educational matters. The whole should have been investi. gated, not merely the parts. It should have been more incumbent on the committee to determine in general the direction in which all improvement in the educational system should be made, rather than to determine specific changes; to draft a coherent conception of a school system to which the Swedish system finally, if ever so slowly, could approximate itself, rather than propose improvement only for the present or for the next 5

In the field of elementary education the statute of June 18, 1842, implied such a program, the realization of which had to extend itself over decades. The statute was vague in many respects: the duration of study was not prescribed; the educa. tional attainment required was defined only for children who had to leave school after the minimum course; and if they wished, parents could substitute instruction at home-often inadequate-for their children's school attendance. . .

The speed of the work of organization was dependent upon what was economically possible, but already by 1853 two-thirds of the children of school age were receiving some school instruction.

The lines of direction of 1842 have been followed gradually. The framework of organization has attained its concrete content and broadened in response to new needs. In 1858 the primary school was established to give beginners their first preparatory education, in 1878 the first plan of elementary school instruction was prescribed with the 6-class school as the normál type, and in 1882 the compulsory school age was defined by a decision that the school age should be calculated from the

year in which the child attained the age of 7 to the year in which he attained the age of 14, both inclusive. Finally, according to a parliamentary decision of 1936 the compulsory elementary school was extended by a 7th class; this development was practically completed by the opening of school year 1948-49.

Concurrently, post-elementary school education was expanding; the outstand. ing year for this development was 1918, when practical schools for young people now in use were established by parliament.

Moreover the originally quite independent school system centered around the old grammar school was linked gradually more closely to the elementary school. A beginning was made in 1894 when the entrance requirements to class I of the State secondary school were related to the curriculum of the elementary school. In 1909 the municipal middle schools were established with the 6-year elementary school as a basis, and after further reforms in secondary education in 1927 and 1928 all types of the realskola were based on either the 4- or 6-year elementary school course. A final step has been taken recently by which, as of the present school year (1949–50) entrance examinations to State secondary schools and to corresponding types of schools are abolished for pupils who have reached the prescribed standards in the appropriate class of the elementary school.

The Swedish Reform Act of 1950 was preceded by more than 10 years of preparatory work. In November 1940 the Minister of Education authorized a committee in which he himself served as chairman to study the organization of education in Sweden. The committee was mainly one of experts representing the different types of schools and educational interests in Sweden. In January 1946 this was followed by a second committee consisting mainly of laymen, representing the political parties in Parliament. In this committee also the Minister of Education served as chairman.

The following pages of this bulletin are devoted to an account of the Swedish educational system for which the School Reform of 1950 was planned and in which experimental work is already in progress. ADMINISTRATION

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy in which the principle of parliamentary supremacy has long been accepted and in which the King rules after taking counsel with his ministers. The Swedish Cabinet (Statsråd) comprises at present 11 ministers or department chiefs (departementschefer) and 5 ministers without portfolio (konsultativa statsråd). As from July 1, 1947, the regular departments are the Department of:

Justice (Justitiedepartementet)
Foreign Affairs (Utrikesdepartementet)
National Defense (Försvarsdepartementet)
Social Welfare (Socialdepartementet)
Interior (Inrikesdepartementet)
Communications (Kommunikationsdepartementet)
Finance (Finansdepartementet)
Education (Ecklesiastikdepartementet)
Agriculture (Jordbruksdepartementet)
Commerce (Handelsdepartementet)

Supply (Folkhushållningsdepartementet) Each regular minister is assisted in the direction of his department by an under-secretary (statssekreterare) and an executive under-secretary (expeditionschef). Further, each department comprises normally three or four bureaus each under the direction of a principal assistant secretary (kansliråd). Thus the Department of Education has four bureaus, one each for (1) church matters; (2) universities, academics, museums, archives, etc.; (3) schools; (4) adult education, vocational training, etc.

In addition to the departments which transact only the important affairs of the Crown such as matters pertaining to government bills in Parliament and the translation into practical administrative form of legislation enacted by Parliament there are the independent central agencies. From an organizational viewpoint the central agency operates under the department concerned, but is responsible only for the proper administration of the duties assigned to it by its Letter of Instruction from the Crown. These instructions generally outline the organization of the agency, the qualifications and duties of its officers, the work of the agency, and the extent of its authority in making decisions and in inspecting and controlling subordinate offices. The instructions charge each agency with a general responsibility for all developments within its individual adminis. trative field. Each agency is also supposed to take the initiative in seeing that its sphere of government is properly administered.

Another important function of the central agencies is to submit formal opinions on the legislative proposals and reforms put forward by the government.

Each central administrative agency is in charge of a director-general (generaldirektör). Like the departments, the agencies are organized into bureaus. The chiefs of these bureaus aid the director-general and comprise the "board” of the

agency. The three most important agencies in the Department of Education are the National Archive (Riksarkivet), the Board of Education (Skolöverstyrelsen), and the Vocational Training Board (Överstyrelsen för yrkesutbildning). The national Archive serves partly as archives of national administrative records and partly as a central authority over smaller public archives throughout the country.

Between them the Board of Education and the Vocational Training Board supervise the educational system as a whole except for special institutions, such as agricultural, military, and navigation schools. The Board of Education is in charge of elementary and secondary education and also of adult education programs insofar as they receive government subsidies. Except for the research libraries at Stockholm, Uppsala, and Lund it also superintends the State-supported library system.

The universities and other institutions of higher education enjoy a relatively large degree of autonomy and are not under the direction of a central authority. The Faculties of the State Universities of Uppsala and Lund and the Caroline Surgical Medical Institute choose a university Chancellor who has a certain controlling authority over these institutions, and in some respects over the private Universities of Stockholm and Gothenburg

Elementary
Education

Organization of elementary education

According to a royal regulation of June 12, 1936, the elementary school beginning with the school year 1948-49 comprised seven 1-year classes. Until then it could be a 6- or 7-year school. At the beginning of school year 1948–49 this development was completed to the extent that only 9 out of a total of 2,449 school districts had been granted temporary extension of the period of transition. Further, 60 school districts, including 30 in rural areas had extended their period of compulsory school attendance beyond 7 years and established 8-year elementary schools.

The two lower classes of the elementary school comprise the primary school (literally "small school”—småskola); and the remaining classes, the elementary school proper (egentliga folkskola).

Sweden has four types of elementary schools. The two main types, A and B, offer full-time instruction throughout the school year. At type A schools each class is in charge of a separate teacher. At type B schools one teacher has charge of two or more classes.

Exceptional types C and D may be established only in special instances where local conditions make a main type out of the question. Type C is found in areas of sparse population and resulting long distance to school. It is a half-time elementary school with l. or 2-teacher divisions. Each teacher division comprises at least two instruction divisions receiving instruction alternately, either every second day during the entire school year, or every day during half of the year.

Exceptional type D is a minor elementary school found only in remote areas with few children. It is a l-teacher school with classes forming either one instruction division with full-time teaching or two half-time instruction divisions with the pupils of each division attending school every second day throughout the school year, or daily for half of the year. Instruction on both elementary and primary school levels is offered usually by a teacher who has passed only the examination for primary school teachers (p. 20).

In 1950 a total of 611,869 children attended elementary and primary school in Sweden. Of these, 237,813 lived in cities; 372,705, in rural areas; and, 1,351, in areas of sparse population. The city schools had a total of 9,677 teachers; the country schools, a total of 19,476 teachers.

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