Administration, Finance & Educational Research
Following Sweden's decentralization of its education system, that system of education was assigned to the Ministry of Education and Science, and the National Agency for Education Skolverket was named to serve as the administrative unit for the schools.
The National Agency for Education came into existence in Sweden in 1991. The bureaucratic agency was formed to fill such needs as childcare oversight as the state moved to decentralize its schools over a ten-year period that was completed in July 2001.
The state moved to give local municipalities and systems both autonomy and responsibility for their schools. Local schools reorganized, controlled their staffing, and tightly watched over resources such as the adoption of computers and other technology into the schools. Each school also submits its own plan of operation after it has been considered and voted upon by the local municipal council or other local government body. Such a plan is a comprehensive look at school operations, school objectives, and the characteristics of the students within the local system. There also is a needs assessment based on the scores and performances of the district students.
Schools follow syllabi and evaluation standards developed by the National Agency for Education. NAE administrators are also available for comment or consultation as they continuously update data and survey information about Sweden's schools that help local administrators make informed choices. Schools traditionally have received generous funding from the state in the past. Local organizations of the NAE track educational developments and successes that other school districts may emulate, and a free exchange of ideas among schools is encouraged. Parent input is encouraged, and surveys are taken of parents, teachers, administrators and students to ascertain changing attitudes and to track areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction within Swedish school systems.
Local educational units are fully responsible and held accountable for decisions. The NAE oversees evaluations of schools that are conducted by authorities in education deemed to have the necessary qualifications for helping to determine strengths and weaknesses of these programs. The consultants, in reports to the NAE, also make evaluations and recommendations for ways to improve systems judged to be flawed in some area. Such evaluations are then followed up, and the NAE notes areas in which progress toward reform has been made.
The main administrative offices of the NAE are located in Stockholm. In the year 2001, an additional eleven branch officers were located strategically throughout the country for convenient access by local school administrators and other educators. Each local branch is directly responsible for supervising schools and childcare within its jurisdiction. Local branches may be found in the Swedish communities of Gothenburg, Karlstad, Linköping, Luleå, Lund, Skövde, Stockholm, Sundsvall, Umeå, Uppsala and Vääxjö.
In addition to evaluation and bureaucratic functions, the NAE also funds research proposals made by university educators and researchers. The NAE does not function itself as a research facility. The agency does make an effort to see that research is conducted that is representative of the various specializations reflected in the curriculum of Swedish schools. It also puts on conferences and intensive workshops for educators.
Mobbing: Since the late 1990s, the NAE and local schools have taken a far more serious examination of a bullying practice referred to as mobbing in Sweden, as well as other forms of abuse. In 1999, a Swedish district court ordered the municipality of Grums to pay court costs and damages to a woman, 20, who years before dropped out of school after being mobbed by her peers. The ruling was interpreted to mean that school districts had to show that administrators had taken proper precautions to monitor, stop, and punish mobbing abuses in school.
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