Foreign experts to dissect Sweden’s schools

Foreign experts to dissect Sweden's schools
Education Minister Jan Björklund. Photo: Folkpartiet/Flickr
The Swedish government is set to assemble a panel of foreign experts to get to grips with the ailing Swedish schools, the education minister announced on Tuesday.

"An independent commission can give us uncomfortable truths," Education Minister Jan Björklund said as he announced the venture which will take place under the auspices of the OECD. The recent tumble in the global education ranking Pisa was cited as a motivating factor. 

The move was welcomed by the National Education Agency (Skolverket), with head Anna Ekström commenting that so far only Greece had taken up the offer of help from the OECD. 

"I only see this as a positive step," she told the TT news agency. "The Pisa results were so serious that we need as broad and deep analysis as possible. It would be a shame not to use the competence on a global level".

Sweden's two teachers unions, Lärarförbundet and Lärarnas Riksförbund, also welcomed the move. Opposition parties, meanwhile, were less impressed.

Green Party spokesman Gustaf Fridolin said there was no further need for introspection.

"We don't need more research to tell us that pupils need more time with their teachers," he told TT. "We need an education minister who has policies that give pupils more time." 

Shadow education minister Ibrahim Baylon of the Social Democrats met the government's move with more optimism.

"It's great that the government backs away from its stand on these points," he told TT. "We've proposed a commission and a research council but were told 'No' before."

He echoed Fridolin, however, in saying a committee was not enough. 

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