Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Swedish Education System

So you might wonder why it is that I am here in the first place: Education!
The Social System here covers a lot of things, Education from K through 12 is just a part of it, in fact many universities and colleges are also without fees or costs for the education itself...the only fee that one might pay here is a mandatory fees to the Students union which amounts to no more than $25 or thereabouts. There are also course materials but most of the time the materials are provided the students electronically so you can do with them what you will.

The most amazing thing is the introduction that Swedish children get to the education system. As early as 1 they go to government subsidized day cares where they are introduced to the learning environment. You learn for your entire life but most of your early formative years children in Canada are cared for at home by only their parent or guardian. What a frightful thing it would be for any student to leave this secure environment and go at the age of 5 to spend their entire day with strangers. Here is another example of why Sweden has it right.

But!...lets start from the beginning. K through 12. Its typical in western societies that a certain minimum education level is maintained so that the population is somewhat educated. Canada is no different, there we have some of the best education in the world...I will probably ruffle a few feathers if i was to say that our education system is better then the great US of A but i firmly believe this from my experiences traveling and the general perception that you gather watching countless hours of American programming. US education Canada our Education system is great, I went through it, I excelled as did many friends and colleges. In fact my opionion was that the education system was somewhat easy which is why I chose to accellerate my learning by taking International baccalaureate ( courses in science in my final 3 years of study.

In Sweden, not only do they have the same level of high school education but they go a step farther here...for instance, all the way through to the 12th grade students are provided lunch! And we are not talking about a burger and fries, speaking with people here the food choices are healthy and nutritional. In the event that the school is too small to have its own cafeteria, the students are provide THE SCHOOL to go to any establishment of their choice for lunch. You might think: "Great, lunch so what?"....but let me tell you when i was going through school being raised by a single parent who had to work to keep food on the table (im talking dinner food here) there was never time for her to help us with lunch....we didn't have the money growing up for me to eat out every day and pretty much for 6 years through junior and high school i would go without lunch. How does this
effect a student? well for one they are probably hungry in the afternoon...reduces concentration, weight gain, im sure dozens of other effects.
The lunches end at grade 12 however the support from the government does not. Students are encouraged to go onto higher education be it University (Universitet) or Technical School (Högskolan) where the government provides student with a strip end to make ends meet while going, noting however that the school costs nothing. The entire system here is setup to promote higher education of the general population.
What is the result of all this higher education? The results from are pretty clear from my viewpoint. For a country of 9 million they have more popular and worlds known brands then I can count.

These are just a few of the companies I could come up with off the top of my head. Its obvious that the Swedes are doing something right here.

Along with the great education system the provide their own citizens they provide the same to countless international students every year as well. Its a win-win situation: The students that come here are typically from part of the world where the education system is still lagging behind the rest of the world and by helping these students they are helping their entire country by helping to advance knowledge there; Schools here are funded based on the number of students that pass the courses, the smarter the kids and the better the education the more funding the school gets to do more of the same.

When i finished my degree I was looking down the barrel of a huge student loan that was accumulating interest daily and this is even worse in the states where their education system can cost almost 10x what one in Canada currently costs. Not exactly helpful.

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