New incentive for students to study ‘hard’ subjects

The government is to propose that maths and modern languages be given an extra weighting at high school. The move is designed to counter the trend of students picking 'easy' subjects to increase their chances of getting good enough grades to enter university.

“More knowledge, less tactics is the message,” said education minister, Leif Pagrotsky, to DN.

The idea is included in a discussion document for a new higher education act. The government is due to present the document on Tuesday. It isn’t certain at this stage which subjects, apart from mathematics, would be suggested for the scheme. DN speculated that it would be languages such as French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian.

It also has to be decided exactly how the subjects in question would be valued compared to the others.

Leif Pagrotsky said that Sweden’s education system had to meet the demands of globalisation and the growth in international joint working. He wants Swedes to be able to operate globally without having to resort to using interpretors. Pagrotsky himself studied Chinese once.

“We’re very good at English, but it’s a concern that other languages are falling by the wayside. Sweden needs a multilingual population because we’re becoming increasingly reliant on the outside world.”

Pagrotsky also said that mathematical ability is vital if Sweden is to keep up in technology and scientific research.

Until now, all subjects have been regarded as having an equal value for entry to university. As a consequence, many students have rejected subjects requiring harder work to gain a particular grade.

A survey of 80 schools in 2001 found that a majority of students chose a foreign language in Year 6, but that at least 50% of them dropped the subject at senior high school (gymnasium).

A report in 2003 concluded that it was easy to manipulate the university entry system and that some schools even illegally helped their students do so.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter