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Sweden to cut dropout rate by shortening school

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Sweden to cut dropout rate by shortening school
12:06 CET+01:00
The government's new plan to shorten high school by introducing a short vocational programme for those ”lacking the prerequisites” to finish a full three-year programme, has met with staunch critique from opposition politicians.

”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.

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