Sweden: The Swedish Strategy for Lifelong Learning, issued in 2007

© Giuseppe Milo

Rationale of the strategy

The strategy for lifelong learning is based on the individual rather than systems and institutions, and is organized to support individual learning at different stages of life. The individual’s opportunities, needs, motivations and potential are the starting points for the support and structures that are needed. The strategy covers all forms of learning: formal, non-formal and informal. Education in the public education system should be provided free of charge. In addition, a generous and equitable study support system should give everyone the opportunity to study, irrespective of their background and financial resources.

Concept of lifelong learning

Lifelong learning may be regarded as a general description of a number of approaches, system characteristics and basic values. For a number of years, lifelong learning has been one of the guiding principles in the general development of educational and learning policy.

Main challenges

The strategy focuses largely on quality, goal attainment and accessibility. The following issues are mentioned:

  • Quality:
    • Transitions between different levels and parts of the education system
    • Transitions between education and working life
    • Dead ends in the education system
    • Study and vocational guidance that responds to the needs of individuals, society and the labour market
  • Accessibility - equivalence ‒ coordination:
    • Opportunity to study for everyone, irrespective of background and financial resources
    • Geographical accessibility of education and adaptation to individuals’ different living conditions
    • High level of equivalence in education as regards admission, design and content
    • Validation of knowledge and experience
    • Role of working life in learning and development

Main targets and measures

The strategy covers all levels and parts of the education system, from preschool to adult education and higher education. It also takes into account and gives meaning to learning in both working life and societal life, as well as in other life contexts. The following targets are defined in the strategy:

  • Preschool: focus on the development of language as a means of acquiring and understanding the surrounding world; linking language development and concept formation in order to develop good reading skills as well as other skills; introducing universal preschool free of charge for children from the age of three
  • Compulsory school: creating the best overall conditions for pupils’ general education, thinking and knowledge development; introducing compulsory national tests for Year 3 and tests in Year 5; increasing opportunities for teachers to participate in advanced in-service training and in-depth studies
  • Upper secondary school: designing a new upper secondary education that enables more young people to complete their education within four years; vocationally oriented programmes that lead to a vocational leaving certificate; greater coordination is needed between school and working life
  • Higher education: increasing resources allocation to postgraduate programmes to ensure higher quality; continuous evaluation of quality in higher education; easy access to higher education through direct education or via distance technologies; more integration of immigrant academics by means of special supplementary measures for different professional groups; strengthening opportunities for adults to return to higher education after a degree
  • Adult education: promoting the development of structures for greater coordination between different actors that support learning; securing a well-developed infrastructure with guidance, validation, accessibility and study support
  • Popular adult education: strengthening post-upper secondary education outside higher education and transforming it into a more powerful alternative

Stakeholders involved in the development of the strategy:

Stakeholders responsible for implementation of the strategy:

Further readings and web links:

Issuing Body

Ministry of Education and Research