Sweden unveils new school curriculum

Sweden unveils new school curriculum
Sweden's education minister Jan Björklund on Monday presented a new school curriculum promising clearer goals for teachers and pupils, with the introduction of grades from year six.

“The requirements of the school should be clear and concrete. Teachers, parents and students should understand what is expected in class. The curriculum states that students are entitled to structured, teacher-led instruction,” Jan Björklund said in an education ministry statement.

The minister argued that “it is time to upgrade the teacher and teaching in schools.”

The new national curriculum will apply to the nine years of compulsory school, as well as the Sami school and special schools, and will replace the previous framework introduced in 1994.

The 1994 curriculum, which was also implemented by a centre-right government, left too much scope for choice and decentralisation, Björklund said on Monday, promising to increase central control over the education system.

The new curriculum will reduce the number of specified goals, provide greater clarity in those goals, and proscribe centralized teaching content.

The National Agency of Education (Skolverket) will in the autumn be charged with developing knowledge requirements for years three, six and nine.

In year nine knowledge requirements will be developed for all subjects, while at year six modern languages will be exempted. In year three (9/10 years-old) knowledge requirements will be introduced for Swedish, Swedish as a second language, maths and natural and social science subjects.

Grades on a new A-E,F scale will be introduced in year nine, and for year six subject to parliamentary approval.

Work to implement the new curriculum will be undertaken by the education agency during the 2010/11 academic year with autumn 2011 earmarked for the gradual introduction of the new curriculum and course outlines.

The Local reported on Sunday that the government has announced one significant change from proposals framed by the education agency – regarding the teaching of Christianity in schools.

In a move described as “the government steamrollering the agency”, Björklund has decided that Christianity should continue to receive special treatment when teaching religion in schools.

“It’s not that the Christian religion is better than any other, rather it has to do with the enormous influence Christianity has had on our country, and still does have in our part of the world,” Björklund explained.

The agency had proposed that the world’s five main religions, which are all taught in religious education classes Swedish schools, should be given equal emphasis.

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