Constitutional & Legal Foundations
Sweden's Education Act mandates that all local municipalities make available preschool activities for infants and children one year to six years old. In addition, many municipalities also have private preschools operating in their area as well. Such schools are not compulsory, but many families choose to have their children admitted. The state's interest is to assure the safety and development of children, offering all an opportunity to secure the best education possible with the assistance of local authorities. The preprimary level of education is not graded.
The Swedish Parliament passed a statute in 1962, decreeing that students be compelled to attend a comprehensive school for nine years. Prior to that time, students were compelled to attend an elementary school of seven or eight years' duration and a junior secondary school or secondary school for girls.
The higher educational system in Sweden was dramatically overhauled again in 1989 and in the 1990s. Before these reforms, Parliament and the Ministry of Education and Science, with assistance of various national education boards, determined Sweden's educational policies.
After the reforms were implemented, these boards—the National Board of Education (for compulsory schools) and the National Board of Universities and Colleges—were done away with in the early 1990 and the system of education was essentially decentralized. This gave Sweden's institutions of higher education more control and power over admissions, as well as increasing authority for self-government.
In the year 2001, Swedish students from seven to sixteen years old attend grundskola (compulsory school). Each municipality is responsible for the students in its district; students who wish to attend another municipality for its academic offerings may do so, and their own municipality pays the tuition. (This is similar to the U.S. system of vouchers). Swedish is mandatory from age seven up (although those natives who have another mother tongue other than Swedish can make that their compulsory language). English is mandatory when students reach ten years old; substitutions for other languages such as German or French can be made as students go into higher grades.
Educational Philosophy: Sweden's educational system stresses equal opportunity to get an education for all citizens. At every level of education, tuition is free, as in compulsory schools (grades one through nine) are all other school-related expenses. While the government sets standards, the burden to provide a quality education falls on smaller Swedish governing units known as municipalities.
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceSweden - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education