Students may have to switch teachers, be taught from a distance, or even see their school shut down.
“We’re a little worried that this may kill schools,” Ann-Mari Mäki Larsson, in charge of Pajala municipality’s education, said to the TT news agency.
Larsson is referring to a dilemma Pajala, in the far north of Sweden, shares with other thinly populated municipalities: their schools are small, with few teachers, and are far from other schools.
Competence regulations for teachers will be tightened this summer, and the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is to issue teacher certificates. This will make small schools very vulnerable.
Two or three teacher together must have full competence for all subjects and all grades. After 2015, only certified teachers may be in charge of teaching and grading.
Neighbouring Kiruna municipality, as well as Krokom and Ånge municipalities, also in northern Sweden, are considering a range of practical solutions.
“Getting teachers to commute between several schools or distance teaching are the possibilities that we can see,” concluded school director Peter Nordmark in Kiruna.
“But distance teaching requires one teacher to broadcast, and one to be on location with the students, and that won’t be cheap.”
Rural areas and cities alike will have employers making some large changes within the teaching staff.
“Basically this reform is good, but when too much is changed at once the quality of the education is lowered. There’s a risk that we’re going to have worse teaching than we’ve had earlier between now and 2015,” said development manager Lars Thorin in Ånge municipality.
86,000 people are working as grade school teachers, and of these, 86 percent currently hold a degree in teaching.
This means that 10,300 full-time teachers lack competence, and cannot obtain a teacher certificate.
On July 1st the regulations for teachers and pre-school teachers will be tightened, and only teachers with the appropriate qualifications, in other words a teaching degree within their subject, can then be hired.
From August 1st teachers will be able to apply for a teacher certificate from the Swedish National Agency for Education. This will show which grades and subjects the teacher is qualified for.
To receive this certificate, a teaching degree and one year’s work experience is required.