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Sweden to cut dropout rate by shortening school

Sweden to cut dropout rate by shortening school

Published: 10 Feb 2012 12:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Feb 2012 12:06 GMT+01:00

”Björklund is playing Russian Roulette with the kids,” said Jabar Amin, spokesperson on education for the Green Party, to news agency TT.

The government has only recently launched the new Swedish high school (gymnasium) curriculum but is already planning new changes.

At the ministry of education a proposal is being prepared for a shorter high school programme for those that are tired of studying.

The idea behind the scheme is for the students to plan their own courses and opt out of theoretical studies altogether, according to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Minister for education, Jan Björklund, is hoping that the reform will decrease the high school dropout rate in Sweden.

”This is a method we should try . More than 10,000 young kids drop out of high school every year and several thousands do so by the first year. They often step straight into unemployment. It is better if a student graduates from a shorter programme than if they drop out and become unemployed,” said Björklund to SvD.

But not everyone agrees with the minister's new scheme to shorten high school for those who ”lack the prerequisites” to finish a three year high school programme.

”It is scandalous for the government and the Liberal party to not uphold their responsibility to educate the children; to say that tens of thousands of Swedish kids lack what it takes to finish high school. It is shifting the focus from the government's own failure,” he said.

Björklund claims that the graduates from the shorter programme would be a sought after group on the labour market.

”There are professions in Sweden where you would be qualified to work, if you have gained a vocational qualification,” Björklund told SvD.

However, Amin thinks that Björklund is playing a dangerous game with the teenagers education.

”He doesn't know that, he thinks that. What guarantees does he have that they will be employed,” he asked TT.

Rossana Dinamarca of the Left Party is also critical of Björklund's reasoning.

”The government has already undermined the vocational programmes by removing essential parts of Swedish, English, social sciences and maths. Now they are taking another step toward not helping these kids,” Dinamarca told TT.

She thinks that what is needed is more support both in primary and secondary school.

”The goal should be that everyone will get there, not lowering standards and tricking the kids to leave. What kind of a labour market is there for those that graduate with too little knowledge?” Dinamara said to TT.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

12:54 February 10, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Why not have the King wave his sword symbolically over the head of all high school aged children and pronounce them all to have graduated with honours? This would reduce the dropout rate to zero.

This is yet another way to promote laziness to any student who lacks motivation, or is going through a low motivation phase of his/her life. Vocational workers would benefit for the rest of their lives from a level of math literacy that any decent high school program would provide, to understand mortgages, retirement savings, basic investments, etc...

If the government is so convinced that people with limited academic skills will form an attractive part of the employment market, then why is youth unemployment near 50% in parts of Malmö?

Nations that do not glorify laziness in their school systems, and that have normal disciplinary controls within their schools so that teachers can devote their time to teaching, will fare better in the years and decades ahead, which will be increasingly driven by growth in the knowledge and information technology sector.
14:23 February 10, 2012 by isenhand
Yes, lets dump all the course that might tax their little brain cells and just go for the sexy fun stuff! In fact, why both with any serious education anyway? We could just not bother with it all, let the kids muck around for a year or two and lower the taxes even more!

Quantity before quality. That's the way to go and if we ever need anyone clever we can just import them just like the US!
14:34 February 10, 2012 by Nemesis
This idea is beyond insane.
14:56 February 10, 2012 by Abe L
A real solution would be to stop handing out welfare to people that drop out of school. If you have no diplomas or skills then you won't get a job. So in order to provide for their families later on these people will reconsider a few times before dropping out.

I do would promote preparing kids at a younger age for actual jobs rather then all the general information they are taught in school. With a strong emphases on paying and available jobs and not jobs with no feature or those that depend on taxpayer subsidy.
15:08 February 10, 2012 by Scott McCoy
Once again,Sweden shows just how stupid they are.
15:22 February 10, 2012 by Svensksmith
Abe is right. Cut the welfare for those who aren't working and the motivation to learn will increase quickly.
15:32 February 10, 2012 by roaringchicken92
But people, what this also ensures is that government officials will have greatly reduced competition for their jobs, since so much of the competition will be under-educated. Then you can continue to "provide for those in need", establish a terrific immigration programme to fill the positions that require the highly skilled (and to "provide for those in need" if the immigrants are not well educated), and take as long as you like to train these under-educated apprentices to do things the way you want them done, not how they might be done if the apprentice was ingenious and creative. Its a brilliant idea, actually.
15:45 February 10, 2012 by RobinHood
"There are professions in Sweden where you would be qualified to work, if you have gained a vocational qualification," Jan Björklund

Once you struggle past the political point scoring, sensationalist reporting, and selective reading of some posters here, Mr Björklund seems to be rediscovering the much missed apprenticeships that traditionally absorbed the less academic, and turned them into useful (and often very wealthy) members of society.

As every teacher knows, not every kid is cut out to be a doctor or software engineer; even in Sweden. Some want to be bricklayers, car mechanics, plumbers and electricians. These bright young things are not necessarily "tired of studying," often they want to develop their skills in their chosen trade as quickly as possible. There should be a vocational path for these sorts too, that doesn't involve wasted years studying things they do not want, or need, to know.

Take Swedish hairdressers for example. The number of places in Swedish hairdresser schools is limited, and there is always competition for places. The schools select the young people with the best grades, and consequently, Sweden has the most intelligent hairdressers in the world. There are no places for those with a talent for cutting hair, but no talent or ambition for academic study. Ask your hairdresser his/her opinions on Edvard Munch, or the causes of the First World War, and he/she will talk for hours.

In Sweden, there are plenty of later opportunities for car mechanics and hair dressers to further their academic abilities if they want. Björklund's suggestion seems to be about giving young people a choice. Choice is never a bad thing; these young people are old enough to think and decide for themselves. Jabar Amin should respect their decision. Even he will need his hair cut, his car fixed and his leaky tap sealed one day, but he doesn't need Einstein to do it.
15:51 February 10, 2012 by krrodman
I am old and gray, and I went to high school at a time when not everyone was expected to go to university. My high school had a vocational program in which people who were not destined to enter university could learn a real-world skill to become a plumber, electrician, draftsman or a mechanic.

In the new world everyone is entitled to a university education. Problem is, for example, at last count there were tens of thousand of unemployed marine biologists in the USA, and it is impossible to find a plumber on the weekend.

If the intent of this program is to give students who do not desire and have no need to read Chaucer or Shakespeare a real world skill, then I am for it.
16:31 February 10, 2012 by Avin a go
I'd like to see industry play a more constructive role in education. Instead of students gambling on a course or program, in the hope that they have a job at the end of it, I'd like to see more industry sponsorship and leadership.

Industry should work with universities to help define coarse content and offer incentives for students to sign up for specific programs - thereby reducing the lottery for jobs that exists today.
17:02 February 10, 2012 by bells on the knight
and the jocks lol.... want to break out of UK. Now that takes the price all the way back to the stone age bunch of morons
17:41 February 10, 2012 by ?????
Oh, Sweden is becoming the capitalists' dream. Go on! Produce armies of illiterate people so that you can use in your factories by paying them nothing. It's so good! They won't even have the brain to think that they're abused! So cool. And of course those illiterate armies can consume more of the useless products that are around. Oh, I forgot: They won't even have the brain to question if something goes wrong with the system! Excellent! Suits some people, doesn't it? Investing on the natural laziness of teenagers...how sad...
17:43 February 10, 2012 by howoldareyou
When everyone is somebody then no-ones anybody. ... Gondoliers
18:21 February 10, 2012 by jostein
I dont think the idea is all that bad. SAP made a poor choice when they introduced more theoretical subjects into the practical highschool programs. The reason people attend practical programmes to begin with is that they do not like to study history and other things that make life worthwhile to some of us. Some like practical, some like theorethical, some neither and some both. If someone can become useful to others.

But the main problem with the swedish school is that its one of the most expensive in the world per student and it produces among the worst results in europe. Ive yet to hear a credible explanation by the government why they fail so miserably.
23:31 February 10, 2012 by bira
I thought high school was only 9 yrs in Sweden already...are they gonna make it 7 now? LOL
03:58 February 11, 2012 by Barnel
Maybe we just serve them coffee and coockies and let them play their iphone? What kind of education is this? either you want to study or not

See articles on www.ariespost.com
10:59 February 11, 2012 by BackpackerKev
Another way Sweden takes the easy route by not actually solving any problems but changing the rules so it sounds a lot better when you get the same result.

Knowing many people in Sweden who have recently finished school I have to say they are still not level with many of the same age coming from other lands.

I think Swedish development is lacking in so many areas, maybe its that they are breast fed till they are 5, treated as children till they are 23 with many lacking any sort of confidence and Independence that you would get at a much earlier age.

Sweded is the pure definition of a nanny state.
11:56 February 11, 2012 by Puffin
There seems to be a strange belief among posters here that there are no vocational programmes in Sweden - but this is patenty not the case as there are hundreds of programmes for

- electricians

- cooks

- plumbers

- bus drivers

- care assistants

- construction workers

-carpenters

- office staff

-nursery nurses

etc etc etc

What Björklund is talking about is a new shorter programme for people dropping out of vocational and academic programmes

The reason that so many are cynical is that a special programme for potential dropouts USED to exist called the individual programme IV - it combined core subjects with work experience

BUT - Björlund himself abolished IV in 2011 and tried to force these kids into academic study - yet now he is reinventing it with a different name less than a year later
12:55 February 11, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
There are some well-articulated posts here in support of the government's proposal, but in my view these (and the government's position) are based on a 20th century prespective, not a 21st century perspective.

Yes we all benefit from excellent tradespeople in our community, and they can earn handsome compensation for their work. I am very pro-work ethic, so I can admit that I would have some misgivings if advising a teenager to stick with Shakespeare for one more year rather than plunging into an apprenticeship or vocational training in line with his/her chosen trade.

But the criticism levelled at the government is because they are shortening an already watered-down curriculum. If Björlund is going back to this system (as Puffin points out in #18), then my question is: why? I don't believe that one extra year of math, literature, English, and history will ruin the ambition or abilities of tomorrow's tradespeople. The extra math knowledge (acquired at a time when they have no other real world responsibilities) will assist them if they rise up through their trade and begin to run their own business one day.

I acknowledge the time-worn but still valid criticism that students often level at their curriculum, namely: 'What is the point of all of this?', and in response to that I would suggest the availability of a more applied math course, and maybe reading excellent investigative journalism on current people and events rather than Chaucer, etc..

And we must remember that educational innovations can for example turn even non-computer-programmers into computer-programmers, as exemplified by an American program that had young girls write their own software programs to tell animated stories (it was so fun that they did not even realize they were learning).

So I am all for any innovation placed on improving the educational tools, metrics (nationwide testing), and classroom discipline, and am against the promotion of any system that re-labels dropouts as graduates, because there is some danger that it will create or re-create a from of national de-motivation to an impressionable group of teenagers who could have their future prospects damaged as a result, and the Swedish workforce weakened as a consequence.
15:25 February 11, 2012 by BillyB
Excellent plan!

you can also end all crime by removing all laws
16:42 February 11, 2012 by Avin a go
#19

Why waste your time writing posts on The Local, every time you wait until, we the uneducated fools that we are, have written something, you then belittle our use of grammar our knowledge of the English language to make yourself feel superior. In a summation that massages your ego. Go write something brilliant something which really stretches your ability to right pro's, something heartfelt, which might be worth reading.
18:44 February 11, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Avin a go

I have NEVER insulted the writing style or writing ability of any poster, or even The Local's journalists.

I was NOT being sarcastic when I wrote that there are some well articulated posts. For example read posts numbers 8 and 9. Your post number 10 is also well written, and more importantly presents an idea that I agree with.

This is a blog of ideas, and we should all restrict our comments to the ideas that are presented. I have no idea why you are attacking some image you have of me as someone who is linguistically arrogant, and who (according to you) writes things that are not heartfelt.
19:10 February 11, 2012 by Avin a go
#22

There you go, you can do it. Just give your view point without writing a critique on everyones writing abilities good or bad. Why am I judging you? I'm doing exactly the same as you do without the pretense of intellect.
19:21 February 11, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
#23

There is no pretense of intellect, there is a desire on my part to write accurately, because some posters will attack posts based on parts of a post that máy be ambiguous.

As I wrote before, and as I apparently must repeat, I have not here or anywhere else criticized anyone's writing style or ability, either implicitly or explicitly. I focus on ideas, mine and those of others, and I should not have to aplologize to you or to anyone else for my attempts to write clearly.
03:42 February 12, 2012 by strixy
Maybe to cut the drop out rate they should just start attaching the GCSE diploma to happy meals?
05:38 February 12, 2012 by Marc the Texan
I don't see the problem with this. No sense in forcing kids to go to school when they are not interested. Better to let them pursue their own interests. Whether it's working or creating art or a million other things. There is too much emphasis is on credentialism. American universities and high schools are diploma factories. The same thing is happening in Britain and all of Europe. I don't think the last two years of high school make much difference for a lot of people.
18:34 March 11, 2012 by Gjeebes
University is the new high-school in Sweden anyway, so those uneducated, unemployed "youth" can just spend say 10 years doing garbage degrees at a Swedish Uni, not that they will go, since you need to get your stuff together, attend lectures, etc...no, wait a minute, actually, you don't, just download the ppt and go write the exam. When you fail the exam, no worries, you can pretty much keep re-writing it until you pass. Now that's quality, and then Sweden can publish stats about exam passing rates and appear as the best educator in the world.

Come on Sweden, why do you always try to re-invent the wheel. You are not half as special as your mighty PR machine is constantly trying to make us think. This high-school non-sense was likely planned by the same who put high tuition fees for master's programs for non-EU students, to "increase the quality". Now that's a laugh riot, as are most of the "ueber-brilliant" plans Sweden implements. Par for the course!
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