In some subject areas such as physics and chemistry, fewer than 15 percent of teachers have proper training, according to a report from the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket).
Many teachers active in Sweden’s upper-secondary schools (gynmanisum) also lack sufficient subject-area knowledge.
“This is a rather alarming situation. It’s even lower than I thought,” Lars Svensson of the Swedish Teachers’ Union (Lärarförbundet) told Sveriges Television (SVT).
“This indicates we have a pending teacher crisis, if we don’t already have one.”
The findings come from what the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper called the largest review of teacher qualifications ever conducted by the education agency, which looked at the education levels of more than 100,000 teachers in Sweden.
Among other things, the study reveals that 50 percent of physics teachers don’t have any formal education in physics, while only 13 percent have the minimum education required to receive a teaching licence.
According to teacher Maria Sandström, the lack of qualified teachers in the natural sciences stems in part from the profession’s low status.
“The labour market is so big and inviting for those who have upper-secondary education in natural sciences and technical fields. People don’t see teaching as a high status job compared to that of a civil engineer, doctor, or dentist. Salaries are also a fraction of what a dentist can earn,” she told SVT.