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The document was adopted on 17 April 2013 by representatives of folk high schools and study associations at the meeting of the Swedish National Council of Adult Education’s representative body.

folkbildning's Direction & Intent

The Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent report is the result of extensive future planning which has involved committed work on the part of Swedish study associations and folk high schools for over two years. In this report, we, folkbildning as a whole, report our view of the role and tasks of folkbildning in current and future society.

folkbildning’s

Direction & Intent

It focuses on the five overarching priorities for Swedish folkbildning as a whole for the future: • Enlightenment & context • Accessibility & inclusion • Citizens & civil society • Working life & lifelong learning • Culture & creativity

On the role and tasks of Swedish study associations and folk high schools in current and future society


Folk high schools

When the Swedish term folkbildning is used in this text, it refers to the folk high schools and the study associations, i. e. the organisations that constitute the liberal non-formal and voluntary educational system in Sweden. The term ’folkbildning’ is difficult to translate into English. It is sometimes translated as liberal or popular adult education. However the specific conceptual foundation of ´folkbildning´ extends beyond the term ’adult education’, which is why ’folkbildning’ is used in this text as-is. (Sw. Folkbildning: Sw. ’folk’ means ’people’, Sw. ’bildning’ means ’enlightenment’)

Illustrations: Ninni Oljemark, Kombinera Graphic design and layout: Kombinera

There are currently 150 folk high schools in Sweden. One hundred and seven of them are members of the Interest Organisation for Popular Movement Folk High Schools (RIO – Rörelsefolkhögskolornas intresseorganisation). Forty-three are run by county councils or regions, and are therefore linked to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL – Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting). RIO organises folk high school run by national popular social movements, local and regional organisations and independent foundations and associations. Folk high schools constitute a distinct type of school alongside other types of schools in the education system due to their unique nature in terms of activities, approach to teaching and organisation. They offer enlightenment activities and vocational training that in many cases is not offered by other types of schools. Due to the ideological diversity of their trustees and their regional profile, folk high schools offer freedom and flexibility and are able to meet new educational needs. These special courses account for half of all folk high school activities entitled to state financial support. Folk high schools are also able to offer qualifications that provide individuals with fresh opportunities and compensation for any deficits they previously experienced during their schooling. General courses are available at all folk high schools and give participants the opportunity to study for general entry qualifications, for instance for university education. Other folk high school activities involve short courses, cultural programmes, open folkbildning and social projects. The framework for folk high schools consists of: • Scope to profile activities • An admission system that often prioritises applicants with the greatest need for enlightenment/education • Locally adapted course syllabuses • A separate assessment system that measures aptitude for higher level studies • A separate quota for applicants to university/college • A separate folk high school teacher training programme and head teacher training programme • A self-management system


folkbildning’s

Direction & Intent On the role and tasks of Swedish study associations and folk high schools in current and future society. A collaboration between the Swedish Adult Education Association (Folkbildningsförbundet), the Interest Organisation for Popular Movement Folk High Schools (RIO – Rörelsefolkhögskolornas intresseorganisation), the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL – Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting) and the Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet).


Content Foreword ...................................................................................................5 Folkbildning prioritises......................................................................7 about swedish folkbildning ..........................................................10 enlightenment & context................................................................ 15 accessibility & inclusion ..................................................................23 citizens & civil society ...................................................................... 31 working life & life-long learning ............................................... 39 culture & creativity .......................................................................... 49 facts on study associations & folk high schools ............. 58


Foreword We live in a time of rapid social change. Comprehensive structural changes in society are combining with rapidly changing trends, shifting norms and global developments. Few trends and tendencies go unnoticed by folk high schools and study associations. Folkbildning has its ear to the ground. We operate in a world where life goes on and new needs arise all the time. Hundreds of thousands of participants and citizens with diverse interests, ages and backgrounds come together through our activities for an individual and shared journey of enlightenment – a process in which people develop together as they gain new skills, perspectives and experiences. Folkbildning wishes and aims to be central to this change. In order to be a strong impetus for citizens, folkbildning must dare to change and stand proud: anticipate, understand, explain, debate, explore and affect. In this way, we can meet people’s new challenges and capitalise on the positive power of participants’ commitment to and desire for learning and a sense of community. This document is a common platform in which folkbildning identifies and prioritises its most relevant contributions to positive social change, which citizens in society with different interests, experiences and ideological preferences can draw on to independently develop activities.

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It is a conclusion to and summary of extensive future planning work known as Folkbildningens Vägval & Vilja, (Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent), which has involved committed work on the part of study associations and folk high schools for over two years. In this document, we put forth our view of the role and tasks of folkbildning in current and future society. It was adopted on 17 April 2013 by representatives of folk high schools and study associations at the meeting of the Swedish National Council of Adult Education’s representative body.

Annika Nilsson, chairperson The Swedish Adult Education Association (Folkbildningsförbundet)

Kent Johansson, chairperson The Interest Organisation for Popular Movement Folk High Schools (RIO – Rörelsefolkhögskolornas intresseorganisation)

Åsa Kratz, chairperson The Folk High School Association (Folkhögskoleföreningen) within the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL – Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting)

Torsten Friberg, chairperson The Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet)

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Folkbildning prioritises Folkbildning as a whole has a very comprehensive agenda. This makes it necessary to focus on overarching priorities. Each folk high school and study association has its own specific orientations and operational goals. Folkbildning is willing and able to deepen and develop activities from which citizens can gather strength to meet new social challenges. Based on five folkbildning perspectives, we prioritise the following:

Enlightenment & context

Folkbildning meets a growing need for enlightenment in an age of information overload and complex global changes. We create opportunities for learning that meet the needs of people craving context, insight and personal growth. We are willing and able to meet the need for learning for sustainable development – socially, ecologically and economically. We have the potential to offer the broader enlightenment that is increasingly in demand in education and business. We want to increase our focus on quality improvement, continuing education, educational development and follow-up management. We want to see folkbildning research that can play a greater role in educational development within folkbildning and contribute to increased understanding of human enlightenment processes.

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Accessibility & inclusion

Folkbildning is a key resource for reducing educational inequality in society and revealing the potential of diversity. Folkbildning offers people a route out of alienation to inclusion, empowerment, skills and jobs. We are willing and able to provide opportunities for the integration and inclusion of more new Swedes and national minorities. Folkbildning should be accessible to all, and especially those who have encountered barriers in other forms of education or have disabilities. We are willing and able to offer encounters that build cohesion and promote respect between people, regardless of background. We are willing and able to contribute to better public health and greater digital inclusion. We will be a force against anti-democratic tendencies in society. Citizens & civil society

Folkbildning makes it possible for hundreds of thousands of participants to meet, organise and influence their community. We will meet growing involvement in new associations and movements with openness and curiosity. We want to increase our presence where folkbildning is underrepresented and give people access to enlightenment processes for active citizenship. Folkbildning should be a socially critical voice and should emphasise the importance of folkbildning and civil society for a sustainable democratic society. We want to be a spearhead for the development of ideas and continuing education among trustees and member organisations. We want to use our transnational work in a more proactive manner to increase our understanding of global and local relationships. Folkbildning wants to be an engine for development in local communities. We want to more clearly take our place in collaborative processes for cultural plans and regional skills platforms, and strengthen dialogue at municipal level.

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Working life & life-long learning

Folkbildning meets new challenges on the labour market and shifting requirements for skills development quickly and flexibly. Within folkbildning, people strengthen their conditions for finding work, becoming motivated or acquiring eligibility for further study. We are willing and able to make it possible for more people with short or incomplete education to find new ways forward. Folkbildning is willing and able to take more responsibility for developing forms of learning that suit and interest young people at risk of unemployment. We want to help ensure that foreign-born Swedes have access to quality language training, public information and other education initiatives to facilitate integration in Sweden. We want to give more young people and adults the opportunity to choose folkbildning as an educational option. We want to help make life-long learning possible for all and promote an appreciation of non-formal and informal learning. Culture & creativity

Folkbildning is by far Sweden’s largest cultural arena. Folkbildning is willing and able to develop this position further. We want to meet the needs of more citizens for cultural experiences and personal creativity. Folk high schools and study associations will continue to be lively cultural venues, educators and a labour market for culture professionals throughout Sweden. We want to continue to be a driving force for local cultural development. We want to contribute in an innovative way as demand for creativity grows. We want to contribute with initiatives that promote more reading. We will work with a wide range of cultural activities, but also meet high quality standards and expectations for specialisation, particularly in the advanced aesthetic education programmes.

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About Swedish folkbildning The concept of folkbildning is defined in the Swedish encyclopaedia Nationalencyklopedin as (in translation) “a collective term for people’s knowledge and orientation in areas outside their own specialities and professional expertise”. Organised folkbildning currently consists of ten study associations with activities in all of Sweden’s municipalities and 150 folk high schools with participants from all over the country. The diversity and differences of participants are expressed in the changing profiles and ideological orientation of independent study associations and folk high schools, as well as the great variety of activities. This is the conceptual background on which Swedish folkbildning as a whole rests. It gives folkbildning its special character in the education community of which it is also part. This conceptual background has a number of special features: • Learning is related to the entire situation in life of the individual. It is a holistic view of people and knowledge, of the enlightenment process as a lifelong journey that leads to personal growth. • Knowledge and enlightenment have an intrinsic value. Context, insight and personal development are emphasised. This contrasts with a purely instrumental view of knowledge, in which knowledge is obtained and communicated for a specific purpose.

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• Folkbildning is free and voluntary. People voluntarily participate in learning processes that involve social interaction, cooperation, discussion and reflection – voluntary interactions that benefit people and communities. • Participants are active in the creation process. Self-organisation, participatory influence and democracy are practised in activities based on the belief in the human capacity for taking responsibility and in defence of human equality. • Community engagement is stimulated and channelled through folkbildning being rooted in popular social movements and associations, but also through the ability to meet new needs and tackle new issues that engage people in the community, locally and globally, in a flexible and unconventional way.

The study associations with 374 member and collaborative organisations are active throughout Sweden, in all of the country’s municipalities. Study circles, where people seek knowledge together based on a specific interest and desire to learn provide the basis for the activities of study associations. All in all, the study associations organise around 280,000 study circles each year, with over 650,000 unique participants. Other folkbildning activities, organised in looser, more flexible forms than study circles, bring more than 700,000 participants together every year. Over 300,000 cultural programmes attract 18 million visitors. Folk high schools are a separate nationwide type of educational establishment, offering a wide range of long and short courses based on people’s needs and willingness to learn, expand or acquire eligibility for further study. Together, the 150 folk high schools host almost 90,000 participants on short courses and around 28,000 on long courses every year. In addition, 240,000 or so people visit folk high school cultural programmes.

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The position of folkbildning in education, culture and civil society makes it an important part of the democratic fabric of society. The founders and trustees of study associations and folk high schools are a large number of organisations where the actual operational and organisational form is based on participation, democracy and self-organisation. These founders and trustees make up a large part of Swedish civil society. Forty-three folk high schools are owned and operated by regions and county councils. The purposes of the state’s support for folkbildning are clear. Folkbildning must help to: • strengthen and develop democracy • make it possible for people to influence their own lives and create commitment to participate in social development • eliminate educational disparities and raise the level of enlightenment and education in society • broaden interest in culture and increase participation in cultural life For almost two decades, a model of self-management has been applied within folkbildning. State support for folkbildning is mainly provided through a single grant.

The Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet) is responsible for official tasks in the area of folkbildning. It is a non-profit organisation founded in 1991 by the Swedish Adult Education Association (Folkbildningsförbundet), the Interest Organisation for Popular Movement Folk High Schools (RIO – Rörelsefolkhögskolornas intresseorganisation) and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL – Sveriges kommuner och landsting). Folkbildning organisations want the principle of self-sufficiency to continue to apply.

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County councils/regions and municipalities provide folkbildning organisations with general funding through their own decisions. There is a general consensus between the state, regions/county councils and municipalities that these three levels of government have a shared responsibility to assist in funding folkbildning activities in Sweden. Folkbildning organisations want to preserve and develop the current model of support for folkbildning and to strengthen the dialogue with representatives of municipalities, county councils/regions and the state on the common responsibility for ensuring that all citizens have access to folkbildning. Study associations and folk high schools may choose to participate in activities based on other sources of funding, such as targeted public grants, external project funding or commissions. Several folkbildning organisations operate within other education systems, such as municipal ‘komvux’ adult education, upper-secondary schools and higher vocational education. However, the main focus of this document is the activities carried out by study associations and folk high schools within the framework of folkbildning funding.

Folkbildning is assigned a number of different roles, as an education centre, education provider, cultural arena, democratic facilitator and a part of civil society, with an important role to play in democracy, the labour market, diversity and the social field. Taken together, its role is to offer an arena for enlightenment processes in which people can develop together, with access to the new knowledge, broader enlightenment and the cultural experiences they seek. That is how we help citizens acquire tools to renew democracy, develop society, create cohesion and take control of their lives and their world.

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context

1

enlightenment


Enlightenment & context Global changes

Globalisation has redrawn the maps in most areas of society, and no less in terms of knowledge, learning and enlightenment. In just twenty years, a relative lack of information has been replaced by a global information overload. To find their way through this maze, individuals need to be able to weed out unnecessary information, evaluate readily-available data, adopt a critical approach and examine and interpret independently. And create comprehensible and meaningful totalities from fragments. That places great demands on the individual. Our era is characterised by professionalism, specialisation and fragmentation, and so the need for folkbildning to create context is never-ending. This is also increasingly true within the education system and the organisations of civil society. Mobility and volatility make it more difficult for people to find more permanent communities where they can establish a deeper dialogue to get a handle on the whole and major events. Our era’s “liquid modernity” creates an increased sense of being lost among individuals.1

1 Bauman, Zygmunt, Det individualiserade samhället (The Individualised Society), Daidalos, 2002 et. al.

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Paradoxically, the development that has made knowledge a key factor in global competition seems to have led higher education in a direction away from enlightenment. The trend towards even more specialised knowledge reduces the scope for deeper understanding. At the same time, business is increasingly interested in promoting greater enlightenment among its employees as the demands for accountability for sustainable development in all dimensions increase. Enlightenment has the advantage, compared to education, that it is specifically aimed at the individual developing a personal relationship with their knowledge. This relationship is perceived by a great many people as one of life’s most important motivators and joys. Expanding knowledge and understanding of oneself and the world, seeking and gaining wisdom, constantly finding more explanations and new perspectives with the help of literature, education, information, discussion and imagination – it is a process that is never complete and so the result is difficult to measure. It also requires a community where ideas can be tested and mined. “It is about so much more because knowledge and enlightenment in particular are attributed value for the benefits they provide. Enlightenment becomes a question of the knowledge economy. But enlightenment is about becoming a person. In places traditionally associated with enlightenment, the relevant processes are increasingly under threat. Colleges and universities are now being transformed in accordance with a logic in which the mechanisms of enlightenment are being eliminated in favour of instrumentally and administratively ordered knowledge production.” Erik Amnå, Bildningsresan (The Journey of Enlightenment), Bertil Ohlin Förlag, 2012

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The opportunities and challenges facing folkbildning

The future requires a broader basis for enlightenment, to the benefit of the individual and society. A broad process of enlightenment better equips the individual to absorb new knowledge, and few things are more important for the future. Folkbildning is a social institution that regards the process of enlightenment as its most important goal, with the voluntary process taking centre stage. We want to offer life-long, but also life-wide and life-deep learning for all. Within folkbildning, the encounter between individuals with different experiences and different interests is part of the approach to education. The individual’s entire situation in life, and their unique circumstances, has always been the starting point for folkbildning. The emphasis in learning is on context, insight and personal growth. Enlightenment for us is a question of facilitating a personal relationship with knowledge. Within folkbildning, the boundaries between theory and practice, academia and society, the arts and other disciplines, are constantly being crossed. For folkbildning, an interdisciplinary perspective is self-evident. Folkbildning is also a global concern. With major global challenges that can only be solved in cooperation, an individual’s desire to learn more for socially, economically and ecologically sustainable development becomes a very hopeful force. Learning for sustainable development is about profound enlightenment processes. Traditionally, folkbildning is heavily associated with the arts, social science and aesthetic orientations. This is set to continue. But we also want to initiate more educational efforts around science, environmental issues and technology to contribute to enhanced expertise in sustainable development and social, civic responsibility. We are affected to a great extent by decisions taken in the eu. Swedish folkbildning works and cooperates actively in Nordic, European and interna-

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tional arenas to assert our interests and the importance of enlightenment and life-long learning. Folk high schools and study associations have extensive transnational activities in the form of courses, participant exchanges, and project and study trips, sometimes in cooperation with trustee, member and aid organisations. While university students in particular are turning to countries with high gdp in the northern hemisphere, folkbildning participants are increasingly studying in countries in the southern hemisphere. This opens the way for dialogue and reflection even in difficult areas such as the roots of the financial crisis, the rise of xenophobia, global justice and the climate challenge. “In light of the flexibility, pluralism and adaptability of study circle activities, it appears like a fluke of history or irony that a system with such strong ties to the development of the society which we are presumably leaving is emerging as the answer to the challenges of a post-modern society.” SOU (Swedish Government Official Report) 1999:84 Demokratiutredningen (Democracy Investigation), researcher volume VIII

“The teacher boost and the significant development of research and educational initiatives that have taken place within the ordinary education system has completely passed by folk high schools. The foundations of our teaching must rest on a scientific basis and tried-and-tested experience, and skills development for folk high school teachers will have to cost money.” Nordic Folk High School in Kungälv, submission to Direction & Intent, 2012

To meet the growing need for enlightenment and to live up to high quality standards, good folkbildning needs to progress. We need to strengthen our work on quality development and quality assurance of activities. Educational development must be strong. Competent and committed teachers and circle leaders are, of course, crucial for good results. We need to continue to invest in training folk high school teachers and study circle leaders. We want to develop

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the study circle, with its unique ability to capture an individual’s desire to freely and voluntarily participate in the processes of enlightenment. We want folk high school’s long processes of enlightenment to continue to stimulate participants to new insights and challenges. The education alternatives presented by folkbildning need to be developed and highlighted. The freedom and independence of folkbildning entails a responsibility to report what we do and our results, as well as how we follow up on and develop activities. The Swedish government report on the social values of folkbildning points out some indicators that could be used for future government assessments of folkbildning: social benefit, individual development, social capital and cultural participation.2 The indicators hone in on the long-term, complex results and life-long processes that folkbildning works with. They are also clearly linked to the four aims the state sets for folkbildning. We wish to emphasise a greater need for research into the roles of folkbildning and civil society, and the importance of enlightenment for individuals and society, not least in light of the international knowledge debate. Folkbildning research needs to be strengthened in order to safeguard good experience of folkbildning and to provide a good basis for meeting future challenges. Conversely, folkbildning on research is also required. Public trust in researchers and research varies significantly according to level of education.3

2 sou (Swedish Government Official Report) 2012:72 Folkbildningens samhällsvärden (The Social Values of Folkbildning) 3 va report 2012:2 Vetenskapen i Samhället under ett decennium – en analys av somundersökningarna 2002–2010 (Science in Society over a Decade – an Analysis of SOM surveys 2002–2010)

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Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent Folkbildning meets a growing need for enlightenment in an age of information overload and complex global changes. We create opportunities for learning that meet the needs of people craving context, insight and personal growth. We are willing and able to meet the need for learning for sustainable development – socially, ecologically and economically. We have the potential to offer the broader enlightenment that is increasingly in demand in education and business. We want to increase our focus on quality improvement, continuing education, educational development and follow-up management. We want to see folkbildning research that can play a greater role in educational development within folkbildning and contribute to increased understanding of human enlightenment processes.

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Folk high schools are willing and able to:

• Further develop and clarify the fact that folk high schools are the type of school where people can grow and be inspired and challenged to consider future study, work, and community involvement. • Include new global and interdisciplinary perspectives, as well as relevant research for the further development of content and pedagogy. • Strengthen structural quality and evaluation work. • Work for a national in-service training initiative for folk high school teachers. Study associations are willing and able to:

• Provide a forum for enlightenment on people’s own terms, with the voluntary enlightenment process taking centre stage, going beyond mere instrumental utilitarianism. • Continue consistent work on quality assurance and the further training of circle leaders. • Increase contacts between folkbildning and research to meet educational needs for sustainable development – socially, ecologically and economically. • Work on bringing research and its results closer to people in order to strengthen their role as citizens.

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accessibility

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inclusion


Accessibility & inclusion Global changes

Sweden is a multicultural country, with nearly all the world’s countries, languages and cultures represented. This is a huge asset for a small country in a globalised world. But diversity is a largely untapped resource. Discrimination excludes on the basis of ethnicity, but also disability, age, gender and sexual orientation. As a result of increased urbanisation, the major cities are growing rapidly, in terms of both population and diversity. It is here that socio-economic disparities are most evident. Segregation creates increasing polarisation between areas with poor educational achievement, high unemployment, low income, lower cultural participation and poorer health, and the suburban and inner-city areas where the situation is the complete opposite. Enlightenment and education are key factors for reducing such disparities. This makes folkbildning a key resource. Almost 90 per cent of the Swedish population has access to the internet, with all the information, culture and opportunities for social interaction this provides. That’s good, but it’s not enough. More than one million adults remain excluded while society increasingly adapts to the internet era.

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Reduced educational inequalities and greater inclusion is essential to prevent polarisation seriously challenging democracy and leading to anti-democratic forces across Europe increasing their influence. We must not be led to believe that a strong democratic tradition will, in itself, be enough to defend democratic values in the future. “Twenty years ago, an ABF financial study circle was probably concerned more with wages and the labour market. Soon discussing leverage in the global repo market may become just as relevant. To quote Bob Dylan: the times they are a changing.” Andreas Cervenka, SvD Näringsliv column, 7 October 2012

“Through its individual appeal, folkbildning can speak to the basic individual desire for freedom. This applies to newcomers and immigrants but also to a significant extent to other vulnerable people in rural and suburban areas where confidence in both their own opportunities for change and the political elite’s willingness to listen is fading.” Bilda study association, submission to Direction & Intent, 2012

The opportunities and challenges facing folkbildning

Folkbildning is willing and able to channel the huge cultural capital that exists throughout Sweden, highlight experience and perspectives and offer instructive encounters. In this way we can also contribute to a social climate in Sweden, in which it does not matter where you come from, where every human is viewed as an individual and does not face prejudice or discrimination. We reach large numbers of people, but certainly not all, who could grow with folkbildning courses and activities. Many study circle participants have roots in countries other than Sweden. Many new Swedes head for study associations to gain greater understanding of how our society works or to learn the language. On folk high school special

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courses, up to one in ten of the participants was born outside Sweden; on the general courses, it is almost a third. Study associations and folk high schools want to increase efforts to reach more of the people who do not yet have contact with folkbildning. Several studies show that girls do better than boys in the public education system. An increasing number of young people do not have basic school qualifications, and the number of dropouts from upper-secondary school is increasing. This increases the need for alternative routes into education. The majority of people on folk high school long courses are still women, and the challenge is to find ways to attract more male participants. There are imbalances in the gender distribution at course and subject level that we should work on. But seeking out like-minded individuals is also one way of strengthening identity, and sometimes the first step that is required is simply the courage and strength to go further. In a society still characterised by subordination of women, for instance, activities aimed specifically at women may sometimes be justified. The music circles that strengthen women’s opportunities in traditionally male domains, and the courses in organising and activist film-making with a feminist perspective run by KvinnofolkhÜgskolan, the feminist folk high school, are just a few examples. A similar approach works for many ethnic and religious groups who need to seek strength together. For many people with a physical disability and/or mental impairment, folkbildning provides one of the few opportunities for learning, community and participation. The proportion of participants on folk high school general courses with some type of disability is around 30 per cent. Just under one in ten study circle participants has a disability. In our activities, we are meeting an increasing number of young people who feel lost and insecure, and who suffer from or are at risk of mental illness. Folkbildning needs the time and sufficient resources to support these young people. We also need to be prepared to collaborate with other stakeholders to strengthen networks around

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vulnerable young people. Many young people leave school before completing their studies. The approach to study in the public school sector is not suitable for everyone. Instead of ending up outside the system, the individual should be entitled to apply to attend folk high school within the municipality’s mandate for follow up, with access to the funding the municipality is required to provide, both in terms of a study place and study financing for the individual. To achieve this, the student finance system needs to be modernised so that it does not discriminate against people with the shortest school backgrounds. Many folk high school participants are now forced to stop studying before they have achieved the level that grants them access to the employment market. Around 85 per cent of participants on folk high school general courses have not continued with or completed their 3-year upper-secondary school education. The equivalent figure for special courses is around 25 per cent. Folkbildning should be open to all. That is also important from a public health perspective. Within folkbildning, we can literally see when participants take the step from passivity to activity, from immobility to motion, from isolation to inclusion, and from feeling lost to having a sense of belonging. With us, that step is and must remain possible. Folkbildning could make even greater efforts within preventive health work, public health and rehabilitation and pre-rehabilitation for the long-term sick. Among the growing number of healthy senior citizens, folkbildning often functions as health-promoting social contact – allowing them to be active and do something with others. The proportion of senior citizens is increasing mainly within study circle activities, where the over-65 age group now accounts for more than a third of participants, but the proportion on folk high school long courses is also growing. The demographic trend means that we can expect new demands and increased needs from older people. We want to prepare for that.

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“It’s a question of cultural identity and room to manoeuvre. /…/ The Roma have started a class journey that involves going from being second class citizens to first class citizens,” says Soraya. “History shows that folkbildning has previously functioned as a springboard for other groups to make similar journeys.” The Swedish National Council of Adult Education, Folkbildning 2010, Årsskrift om folkbildningen i samhället (Annual Report on Folkbildning in Society)

“Increased funding from the state means that folkbildning can engage in a number of sectors that currently receive little attention from society. Preventive health work and public health promotion are areas where folk high schools could make a real difference.” Ädelfors Folk High School, submission to Direction & Intent, 2012

Use of social media and mobile web browsing is still increasing. Government agencies, municipalities, companies, banks, schools – society is increasingly moving on to the net. Extensive efforts are being made in folkbildning, often in collaboration with public libraries, to reach the large group of people excluded from this development. This work needs strengthening. Democratisation of digitisation is a task on a par with the process of teaching the population to read and write. Within folkbildning, face-to-face encounters have always been important. But digitisation also opens up new flexible forms of learning and combinations of physical and virtual encounters, making it possible to reach more people, such as busy parents, shift workers and people with disabilities. Folkbildning wants to be at the forefront of developing new forms of learning and a modern pedagogy that makes use of new technology. This changes the role of teachers and circle leaders, and so also requires continuing education measures.

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Folk high schools and study associations must be a force for increasing participation – as well as a response to the threats to democracy. Meeting, talking and doing something together are powerful ways of tackling prejudice. Folkbildning must defend in word and deed democratic society and basic human rights and freedoms. Our organisations must themselves be part of the diverse society we work in and the socially sustainable Sweden we want to see. Structural inequality and discrimination should, therefore, be noted and combated, not only in theory but also in practice. We want our organisations, teachers, leaders and boards, to better reflect the diversity of society.

Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent Folkbildning is a key resource for reducing educational inequality in society and revealing the potential of diversity. Folkbildning offers people a route out of alienation to inclusion, empowerment, skills and jobs. We are willing and able to provide opportunities for the integration and inclusion of more new Swedes and national minorities. Folkbildning should be accessible to all, and especially those who have encountered barriers in other forms of education or have disabilities. We are willing and able to offer encounters that build cohesion and promote respect between people, regardless of background. We are willing and able to contribute to better public health and greater digital inclusion. We will be a force against anti-democratic tendencies in society.

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Folk high schools are willing and able to:

• Work to ensure that all individuals, 18 years and older, are given the right, in addition to ’komvux’ municipal adult education, specific education for adults and upper-secondary school, to choose folk high school as a form of schooling. • Through excellence and a focus on wellbeing, meet the educational needs of all of the target groups for folk high schools, particularly people with a disability and young people with mental health issues. • Intensify efforts to reduce the digital divide. • Strengthen enlightenment processes to counter anti-democratic forces in society. Study associations are willing and able to:

• Reach and involve more people in activities they perceive as meaningful, to contribute to wellbeing and health. • Continue to work to ensure that all activities are open to everyone, regardless of physical or mental disability. • Continue to take responsibility for reducing the digital divide even after the Digidel campaign ends in 2013. • Confront xenophobia and racism with knowledge, meetings and venues for participation.

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citizens

civil society


Citizens & civil society Global changes

Global challenges require an increasing number of political decisions to be made in international arenas far removed from citizens. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see who decides what, how it affects me and how I can influence those decisions. Electoral participation and interest in organising are in decline. Individualisation, urbanisation and digitisation also disengage the individual from the nation, their residential area and historical collectives, with their associated norms and authorities. In this environment, political organisations and traditional popular social movements are finding it increasingly difficult to attract members and elected representatives. The requirements for long-term, time-consuming and broad commitments are perceived as too demanding, while working methods are often fixed. New organisations are formed with narrower agendas and active membership is neither required nor practised. Professional think tanks and advocacy organisations are increasing in number and are contributing to fragmentation. At the same time, they offer a new way of bringing together and transmitting voices from different interest groups within society rapidly. This has significance for the renegotiation of the social contract in progress, in which the organisations of civil society are being given more provider and supplier roles instead of the classic roles of advocates and opinion makers. Society is

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becoming a marketplace on even more levels. For citizens, this means they are increasingly reduced to the role of consumer or customer. This is a change that presents significant challenges to the way Swedish democracy operates. People are perhaps now turning to folkbildning to acquire personal cultural capital for the important task of creating an identity rather than to belong to a community. But on courses and in circles and lecture activities, we also see how the loners of our time find communities and create new social networks. This is important, as the downside of individualisation is often loneliness, isolation and low self-esteem. It is positive that people want to engage and organise themselves, help with volunteer work, and that they are finding ways to do it – just with fewer boundaries, in a way that’s more permissive, less long-term and has fewer associations with ideologies than before. New single issue, voluntary and grassroots organisations are growing out of people’s common desires and interests. We are seeing a new era of temporary networks set up in response to events that bring together people from all over the world in protest against oppression and injustice. These are hopeful developments in a time of democratic and global challenges. “Several folkbildning organisations have been engaged within the framework of what is known as the social contract for a while now. They are responsible for, among other things, both cultural schools and compulsory and upper-secondary schools, rehabilitation, integration projects and staff training.” SOU (Swedish Government Official Report) 2012:72 Folkbildningens samhällsvärden (The Social Values of Folkbildning)

“Start the “Influence!” campaign – a campaign in which all study associations and folk high schools together are helped to spread knowledge about how people can influence their neighbourhood, their school, their association, society at large or just their

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own life, what rights they have, what obligations there are and how they can work with others on various questions?” Västra Götalands Bildningsförbund, submission to Direction & Intent, 2012

The opportunities and challenges facing folkbildning

Folkbildning wants to spread tools to more people to increase their empowerment and influence as citizens. We want to help people get organised, find like-minded people and identify their opportunities for affecting the surrounding society and world. With strong individualisation, urbanisation and fragmentation of associations, this also presents challenges. We need to treat people as individuals with unique preferences, even when we offer local communities where democracy, citizenship and organising can be practised. More people need to be given the opportunity to cultivate their own interests to also become active members of society, especially among groups that are poorly organised and have low voter turnout. Sweden is rich in associations, and the activities of associations open doors. Self-organisation through a study circle or a course is often the start of involvement in other associations, just as training in democratic decision-making procedures and meeting techniques lowers the thresholds for participation. Folkbildning serves as a democratic tool, even for concept development and profiling of trustee and member organisations. We want to reinforce the concept work and training efforts of trustees. It is largely these same trustees who will support the civil society of tomorrow, and who will be responsible for a central element of society’s democratic infrastructure. Within folkbildning, we often see a desire to learn more about the links between local action and global challenges. This desire must be utilised in a society where global inequalities and the threat of climate change present a challenge to a sustainable future. Folkbildning’s transnational work can be

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utilised more as a way of visualising the links. Folkbildning’s natural role within development aid policy should also be highlighted. Amateur theatre across borders in order to provide tools for equality, a course in fair trade, a festival and creative workshop with Swedes and Palestinians in Jerusalem, Nordic folk high school cooperation for sustainable development, solar panels on folk high school roofs – there are numerous examples. Folk high school boarding schools often serve as mini educational communities where the links between the local and the global perspective become clear. Much more can and should be done in this field. “We wanted to make a hip-hop album, Haninge against racism, with a lot of young people from Haninge. It was the first time I had come across a study association. The people at Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan said, “it’s not easy to help an individual, but if you start an association we could definitely help.” An association? /... / We created a board, I took responsibility as Vice Chairperson and suddenly I found myself in important meetings where I started to learn about how little old Modou from this area can interact with the municipality, government agencies, even politicians. Like how whichever group of parties wins the election has an impact on my living conditions, from infrastructure to living standards. For others, that might be obvious, but for me it was a whole new world. I PLAY A ROLE AND CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!” The Swedish Adult Education Association, Pa Modou Badjie, Medveten vs Medvetslös (Conscious vs. Unconscious), article, 12 January 2012

In order for folkbildning to help renew democracy and open the door for increased participation in the future, interest in new popular social movements and associations is absolutely vital. So increased openness in recent years has also strengthened and revitalised folkbildning. Makalösa föräldrar (Remarkable Single Parents) which works for single parents has developed cooperation with a study association, while Nätverk för främlingsnyfikna (Network for the curious) is working with multi-religious guides in another. Sverok, Sweden’s

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largest youth organisation, has become a member organisation. Ibn Rushd is a new study association based among Swedish Muslims. A new era of collaboration is also on the way among folk high schools. Both Tjejzonen (Girls Zone), a non-profit support organisation that helps prevent mental health problems among young girls, and the Maskrosbarn (Dandelion Children) organisation for children in vulnerable families, have been inspired and developed through folk high school course activities. Österfärnebo sockens utvecklingsgrupp (Österfärnebo Parish Development Group) and Nätverket för rättvis handel (the Fair Trade Network) are other examples of permanent activities that originated at folk high schools. Interest in starting new folk high schools and study associations among new associations and movements is huge. Folkbildning will continue to be open to the desire of people and groups to organise in new ways. The so-called Agreements clarify the responsibility between public trustees and non-profit organisations within areas such as social work and integration. Non-profit organisations are increasingly seen as service and welfare providers. In this context we want to emphasise the concept of citizenship. How this affects the citizen role needs to be examined, researched and debated. Folkbildning should be an educational and socially critical voice, and an arena for lively debate, particularly focusing on the importance of the roles of the citizen and civil society in our democratic society. Study associations and folk high schools want to be facilitators, process leaders and educators within civil society, and occasionally providers within family support, senior care, etc. With a strong local presence, folk high schools and study associations can act as a force for development in local communities and meet the needs and expectations of citizens directly. That’s why we need to deal with those areas where we are underrepresented, both in large towns and the rest of the country. If we want to be able to make a difference, we don’t just need to increase

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our presence; we also need to increase our visibility and ability to reach out to new groups. As the activities of associations fragment, this becomes even more important. The draw of folkbildning players is increasing dramatically in major cities, where the number of inhabitants is increasing. We have responded to this by expanding activities. However, expansion of activities in larger cities must not come at the expense of activities in other parts of Sweden. As regional cooperation is strengthened, folkbildning must be given, but must also take, a larger role in the relevant regional processes. This applies to cultural cooperation, but also to work with regional skills platforms. Folkbildning has the potential to be a success factor for sustainable growth and cohesion locally and regionally. Folkbildning’s role should also be more clearly emphasised when developing national strategies for innovation and competitiveness at the regional level.

Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent Folkbildning makes it possible for hundreds of thousands of participants to meet, organise and influence their community. We will meet growing involvement in new associations and movements with openness and curiosity. We want to increase our presence where folkbildning is underrepresented and give people access to enlightenment processes for active citizenship. Folkbildning should be a socially critical voice and should emphasise the importance of folkbildning and civil society for a sustainable democratic society. We want to be a spearhead for the development of ideas and continuing education among trustees and member organisations. We want to use our transnational work in a more proactive manner to increase our

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understanding of global and local relationships. Folkbildning wants to be an engine for development in local communities. We want to more clearly take our place in collaborative processes for cultural plans and regional skills platforms, and strengthen dialogue at municipal level.

Folk high schools are willing and able to:

• Strengthen international cooperation and projects including through the work of folac (Folkbildning – Learning for Active Citizenship) • Act as a think tank and debate forum for civil society and trustees’ old and new organisations and networks. • Strengthen the social pedagogical work which includes boarding schools as an important resource. • Work for a general increase in resources, in line with the level of remuneration in the public school system, in order to deal with young people with significant needs who apply to folk high school. Study associations are willing and able to:

• Increase presence in the larger cities, although not at the expense of our presence throughout the country. • Be open to new forms of expression in civil society and support those who want to develop activities and organise, while continuing to serve as a think tank for our member organisations. • Take advantage of our international exchange in everyday work with study circles and cultural activities. • Strengthen the empowerment of people by linking the global and the local, and offering specialisation and discussion that strengthens people in their various roles.

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4 life-long learning

working life


Working life & life-long learning Global changes

Global competition, high efficiency requirements and rapid change characterise the labour market and place new demands on the education sector. The trend is creating increased specialisation, increased exclusion and changing skills needs. We see this in increased difficulty in matching workers with available jobs and growing long-term unemployment. Demographic trends point to major labour shortages in several sectors, creating an urgent need for advanced vocational training so that the private and public sector can fulfil its talent requirements. The demands on the individual to transform and reuse experience and training in countless new ways in life and at work are increasing. This is also true of people with a disability or those who have been unemployed or registered sick. A university degree has become the entry ticket to many jobs. Young people are generally acquiring an ever higher level of formal education. At the same time, results in schools are falling and a worryingly large proportion of young people are leaving compulsory and upper-secondary school without basic skills or the qualifications for further study.

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Even the high rate of redeployment puts the notion of life-long learning to the test. The labour market of the future will be knowledge-intensive. Innovation is the keyword within both the service sector and industrial production. Basic knowledge of Swedish is still vital in recruitment contexts. But a lot of specialist knowledge becomes outdated quickly, and so the desire of the workforce to continue learning is becoming increasingly important. The need for general skills, also known as “soft skills”, generic or action skills. As renewal and skills development are essential for competitiveness, it is vital to find employees who can see structures and contexts, function in groups, take the initiative, are service-minded, curious and have the ability to take responsibility. Increased demand for accountability for people and the environment in a global market means that more and more companies are seeking skills in areas such as human rights, labour law principles and basic environmental standards – in business often referred to as csr (corporate social responsibility). This altered perception of skills is interesting from a folkbildning perspective. Broader skills, even enlightenment, are starting to become financially beneficial. An appreciation of general skills also increases the value of learning in non-formal and informal contexts, such as activities in associations that reinforce self-confidence and social capacity, and motivate learning. At the eu level, discussion of formal, non-formal and informal learning is ongoing. The eu’s policy of viewing learning and its outcomes independently of where and how learning took place is in line with the approach of folkbildning. Work on the European Qualifications Framework (eqf) aims to position education at different levels based on learning outcomes. Sweden has included folkbildning and working life in the work on national qualifications (nqf). This creates scope for folkbildning organisations to position their courses and training in the framework, for the benefit of participants, and to highlight the importance of non-formal learning in the new global knowledge economy.

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With regard to the validation of the individual’s actual skills, we want to particularly emphasise the general skills, so-called “soft skills”. “So-called non-cognitive characteristics or generic skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace and are very important for an individual’s future success. These skills are linked to individual characteristics, such as the ability to take responsibility, service ability and the ability to communicate and interact with colleagues and customers.” The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Recruitment Survey 2012

“A growing proportion of the population is not getting the basic knowledge that we believe everyone who lives in the country has both a right and an obligation to acquire. If the education policy goals are to be effective, this requires the development of institutions that can give these young people a second chance at education – but in ways that are better adapted to their individual needs.” SOU (Swedish Government Official Report) 2012:72 Folkbildningens samhällsvärden (The Social Values of Folkbildning)

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The opportunities and challenges facing folkbildning

Sweden needs to be much better at creating opportunities for everyone to both revitalise themselves educationally and develop their skills in different forms in all phases of life. This is where already flexible folkbildning offers an important national resource. Learning as a life-long process is fundamental within folkbildning, even when talking about learning in a work perspective. We take a holistic view of knowledge based on the willingness of the individual to learn. Folkbildning allows participants to complete their education, find motivation to study or relaunch their careers. Via study circles, created by participants themselves, based on their willingness to grow and learn together, many people boost both their skills and the self-esteem necessary to dare to choose new paths in life. Statistics also show that folkbildning makes a significant contribution to such general skills, which are increasingly valued by employers. Almost two-thirds of study circle participants say that they were inspired to continue studying the subject4. Around 40 per cent describe feeling stronger as a person and better at cooperating with others. One in four say that they are better at expressing themselves, making well-founded decisions and that they have developed their critical-thinking faculties. Folk high school participants report similar personal development.5 Of participants on folk high school long courses, as many as 85 per cent are supporting themselves through work or studies one year after completing the courses.6 Folk high schools also help many people with disabilities acquire the qualifications for further study or 4 The Swedish National Council of Adult Education. Study circle participants 2008, the Swedish National Council of Adult Education evaluations No. 2 2009 5 The Swedish National Council of Adult Education. Folk high school participant survey, the Swedish National Council of Adult Education evaluations No 1 2011 6 tco, sfhl & folac. Folkhรถgskolorna och ungdomsarbetslรถsheten (Folk high schools and youth unemployment). 2009

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vocational training every year. However, discriminatory structures in society prevent many of them from going on to further education or work. Folk high schools build bridges to both university education and vocational training. Folk high school courses in media, health and the arts are examples of areas where folkbildning perceived the need for new vocational training at an early stage. In response to participants’ own aspirations to connect their learning to future employment, folkbildning also works to promote an entrepreneurial approach and self-employment. The ability of folkbildning to quickly and innovatively meet shifting requirements for vocational training is an untapped resource in many areas. Boarding schools recruit nationally, which means that folk high schools can offer a genuine opportunity for people to choose a form of education that suits them. Boarding schools can increasingly offer an evolving social educational

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venue for participants with different backgrounds and experiences. Folk high school boarding schools are an asset for society. That’s why it is so worrying that boarding schools are being closed down for financial reasons. Every individual that retakes control over their life and future is an essential success – not just in human terms, but also socio-economic terms. “Flexible learning, the impact of social media on the educational environment and increased technological awareness are issues for the future for folkbildning where there is a lot to do. We need role models, project initiatives and resources to advance and reorganise folkbildning for new generations.” Karlskoga Folk High School, submission to Direction & Intent, 2012

“Most people imagine life-long learning to be a free offer, an invitation to a process of enlightenment. The reality is the opposite. The demand for flexibility is implacable for those who still want to be adaptable. The new world organised around projects, together with the global race for competitiveness, means that life-long learning is no longer seen as a free offer for enlightenment – today we are all forced to live and reshape our lives in accordance with the logic that characterises this narrative identity. Key concepts for the new life story are employability and adaptability.” Bengt Kristensson Uggla, Gränspassager (Border Crossings), Santérus förlag, 2012

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Folkbildning largely reaches those with limited education. The social benefit of this cannot be underestimated. We prioritise the target groups of young people without general entry qualifications, unemployed people who need skills and self-confidence, immigrants who lack elementary skills and new arrivals to Sweden who need to learn Swedish and become orientated in Swedish society. The unemployed, people registered sick and newcomers participate in courses offered both within the framework of folkbildning funding and as special measures in cooperation with different government agencies. Overall good results are justification for strengthening measures both within and outside folkbildning funding. ’Studiemotiverande folkhögskolekurs’ employment training aimed at encouraging young job-seekers to continue their studies has seen very good results. Following the course, 41 per cent of participants had continued on into either studies or work, and over two-thirds feel study motivation and believe that education is a route into work.7 Even experimental activities involving pre-­ rehabilitation at several folk high schools with self-strengthening activities to help people with long-term illness get closer to returning to work have been very successful. Over half of the participants have gone on to active measures and 65 per cent are judged to be closer to the labour market.8 For new arrivals, there is no more important tool than the language, apart from a job. Swedish For Immigrants courses and social orientation programmes are areas where folk high schools and study associations can expand their efforts. Together study association study circles and folk high school courses constitute a national structure for learning that has played a major role in getting Sweden to the top of the league of participation in adult education. Thus, 7 The Swedish National Council of Adult Education. Studiemotiverande folkhögskolekurs, participant statistics 3 October 2012 8 Mid Sweden University and Karolinska Institutet. Utvärdering av förrehabiliteringsprojektet (Evaluation of pre-rehabilitation project), 2011

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folkbildning is helping to achieve the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy. We can also make important contributions to implementing the European Agenda on adult learning adopted by the eu at national level.

Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent Folkbildning meets new challenges on the labour market and shifting requirements for skills development quickly and flexibly. Within folkbildning, people strengthen their conditions for finding work, becoming motivated or acquiring eligibility for further study. We are willing and able to make it possible for more people with short or incomplete education to find new ways forward. Folkbildning is willing and able to take more responsibility for developing forms of learning that suit and interest young people at risk of unemployment. We want to help ensure that foreign-born Swedes have access to quality language training, public information and other education initiatives to facilitate integration in Sweden. We want to give more young people and adults the opportunity to choose folkbildning as an educational option. We want to help make life-long learning possible for all and promote an appreciation of non-formal and informal learning.

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Folk high schools are willing and able to:

• Give general entry qualifications to more people lacking upper-secondary school skills. • Through folk high school pedagogy develop sfi (Swedish For Immigrants) and social information programmes for people who want to live and work in Sweden. • Work on validation of general skills and for the inclusion of non-formal learning in the Swedish qualifications framework (nqf). • Develop more innovative courses, programmes and activities for the benefit of the individual and the social needs identified in the regional skills platforms. Study associations are willing and able to:

• Take advantage of increased opportunities to be a local resource and partner in Swedish For Immigrants and social orientation programmes. • Take responsibility for ensuring that people with short, outdated or incomplete education have the opportunity to supplement their knowledge. • Play an active role in the validation of individuals’ general skills. • Focus in particular on providing young unemployed people with insights, knowledge and self-confidence so that they can start their adult life in education or work.

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culture

creativity

5


Culture & creativity Global changes

The explosion in technology has made it easy to build more relationships, all over the globe. However, futurologists and sociologists talk of a superficiality in such relationships and a reduced link to neighbourhoods, leading to people feeling more lost, more alone even. More and more people live in cities where the distances are short but where, due to individualisation, growing segregation and the large number of single households, people may never have lived so far apart. We need roots to get a perspective on life, and we need to feel a sense of belonging to be active and citizens who make a contribution – whether we live in big cities, small towns or rural areas. Culture is one facilitator of understanding. Cultural participation opens up new ways of looking at society, at ourselves and our place in the world, and expressing things in a language we have made our own. Exercise of culture provides, in addition to pure pleasure, an important opportunity to identify new communities and create deeper relationships. It is an opportunity that people around the country are increasingly making use of. Cultural activities constitute a major part of people’s leisure activities. Study associations’ cultural activities alone bring together more than 18 million participants and visitors every year, and activities are expanding. Together, study associations and folk

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high schools constitute by far Sweden’s largest cultural venue, and thus act as a glue in society when so many other things are pulling it apart. Technological advances have rapidly opened up new opportunities to become familiar with, participate in, share, create, and reach out using cultural expressions of all kinds. In many ways, this is a fantastic development. You can see the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Der Ring des Nibelungen at a Folkets Hus, or ’people’s house’. It’s easy to create films yourself, download and read e-books, and you can learn to play the guitar in front of the computer. This may sound like a threat to folkbildning’s cultural activities, but instead it creates a curiosity that leads to further activity. However, in one area the trend is going in the opposite direction. Reading is becoming less popular in large population groups, particularly among the young. Reading skills in Sweden are also continuing to decline by international standards. Libraries are disappearing from schools and workplaces. Active participation of citizens in a global knowledge economy requires reading skills and reading experiences. Sweden needs much stronger measures to promote reading. “We want an attractive municipality. We want people to move here and be happy, so we need to have a cultural offering in the broadest sense. And that’s where study associations make a huge difference.” The Swedish Adult Education Association, Läge för dialog – en studie om relationen mellan studieförbund och kommuner (Position for dialogue – a study of the relationship between study associations and municipalities), 2011

“Culture is not a decorative addition to society. In a very real sense, culture creates meaning – it’s what gives meaning to our existence. Culture is a prerequisite for a civilised and democratic society. Art allows people to gain a perspective on the society in

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which they live. The relationship between people in a social environment is reflected in aesthetic forms of expression, while the artists themselves develop as people.� Jakobsberg Folk High School, submission to Direction & Intent, 2012

The demands for measurability and comparability are increasing in all areas. Even within culture and enlightenment, better quality criteria and tools for assessment are gradually being developed, which is important. However, cultural values cannot be fully weighed and measured. Nevertheless, it is clear that culture has a strong intrinsic value that drives many millions of people throughout Sweden to seek out cultural activities. The importance of culture is growing in a socio-economic perspective. Creative and cultural industries account for an ever greater share of growth in Sweden. This makes culture an increasingly important policy area. The business sector is also investing more in the cultural sector. A rich cultural life in local communities is an important factor for the attractiveness of municipalities and regions, and for labour markets. Large cultural events, such as Medieval Week in Visby or the Peace & Love festival, are a growing form of informal organised participant culture that brings together large numbers of people with similar cultural interests and values. This presents huge opportunities for cooperation between organisations and industries active both locally and regionally.

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The opportunities and challenges facing folkbildning

The positive statistics on folkbildning cultural activities show that those who are already culturally active have unrestricted access to cultural experiences and activities, and that interest is growing. However, the statistics say very little about the large groups currently outside cultural participation. We want all citizens to be able to be culturally active and to have access to enriching culture. Within folkbildning cultural activities, participants are practitioners. That perspective is a cornerstone of our cultural work. Subjects such as art, music and media are responsible for over half of study associations’ circle activities, calculated in study hours. Arts programmes have a strong position at folk high schools. Some folk high schools are at the forefront of innovative development of new courses, such as game design, application creation and courses associated with events in the regions. Socio-economic and cultural disparities raise the threshold for institutional culture for many people, and this accounts for the difference in terms of access. Within folkbildning, the watchwords are participant culture, infinite variety and accessibility. This also makes it possible for folkbildning to interest people in new forms of artistic expression and provide keys that can open doors to museums, ballets and piano concerts for

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those who are unaccustomed to such things. We want to strengthen folkbildning’s position as Sweden’s largest cultural arena, and adopt the challenge of the future to open up culture to more people. “We have found that it is very difficult to evaluate the activities of study associations … how do you score happy people?” The Swedish Adult Education Association, Läge för dialog – en studie om relationen mellan studieförbund och kommuner (Position for dialogue – a study of the relationship between study associations and municipalities), 2011

“We can’t all be artists, but nobody needs to be a slave.” Gianni Rodari, Fantasins grammatik (The Grammar of Imagination), Bokförlaget Korpen, 1973

With our extensive cultural activities, folkbildning is responsible for a large part of the labour market for culture professionals. We also account for a large part of the new growth, professional, amateur and public. That’s an important responsibility. New musical stars are increasingly pointing to study association study circles as the place where it all started, such as The Cardigans, Broder Daniel and Mustasch. The Swedish musical miracle is largely a result of folkbildning’s rapid expansion of musical activities. Many Swedish literary success stories began at folk high school. Today, they include August Prize winners, such as Susanna Alakoski and Jenny Jägerfelt. Many of the long arts programmes of excellence in music, writing, art and design, photography, film, and other subjects available in folk high schools have become virtually mandatory intermediate training courses in the cultural sector. Without these high-quality courses, art schools would lose much of their recruitment base.

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Versatile cultural activities create a continuous dialogue between professionals and amateurs that benefits both parties. Thus strong dynamics are created when motivated successful participants meet participants on the road to educational rehabilitation. Many participants on other courses, thanks to the arts programmes of excellence, come into contact with, and can examine, cultural expressions that they may never have considered approaching. So people gain a new string to their bow and new interests. Looking at it other way, highly specialised participants get new impressions and perspectives that are important in their art. Sometimes confidence is needed in individual groups. Girl-only rooms, girl-only days and rock schools solely for girls are examples of deliberate efforts on the part of study associations to create scope for women’s development and to change the gender imbalance on the world music scene. Cultural activities also mean a great deal for the local communities where course activities and cultural programmes are organised. Study associations and folk high schools are often the engine of the municipality’s cultural life and cultural activities, sometimes actually the only one. Where there is a local cultural life, there are also culture professionals who can contribute to development. A vibrant local cultural life also provides the fuel for local cultural and creative industries. In recent years, there have been major changes in governance and financing of cultural activities. The new Cultural Cooperation Model challenges folkbildning on its own terms, but actively, to become part of the processes for the regional cultural plans. Folkbildning is a natural hub for efforts to promote reading. Study associations collaborate with all stakeholders in the literary infrastructure: readers, authors, publishers, libraries, researchers and popular social movements. Läs för mig pappa (Read to me, daddy) is a campaign organised together with trade unions, and Allas barnbarn (Everyone’s grandchild) is being organised with senior citizen organisations to encourage different generations to read together. Folk-

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bildning wishes to be at the forefront of work to promote reading. Many folk high school participants have dyslexia or other reading and writing problems. Meeting their needs requires large-scale training efforts, but also a new approach to pedagogy and methodology. For many other participants, folk high school is their first chance to indulge in literary studies at their own pace. Culture is never independent of the society, the structures and the people surrounding it – financial aid, politics, education systems, the audience, critics, and practitioners. That’s why it needs structures that allow it to remain independent in terms of content, free and outspoken, free to reflect and interpret reality. Otherwise its ability to lead thoughts in unexpected, maybe even uncomfortable directions, is jeopardised. Folkbildning must contribute to an active, curious and lively cultural debate for a vital cultural life in the future.

Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent Folkbildning is by far Sweden’s largest cultural arena. Folkbildning is willing and able to develop this position further. We want to meet the needs of more citizens for cultural experiences and personal creativity. Folk high schools and study associations will continue to be lively cultural venues, educators and a labour market for culture professionals throughout Sweden. We want to continue to be a driving force for local cultural development. We want to contribute in an innovative way as demand for creativity grows. We want to contribute with initiatives that promote more reading. We will work with a wide range of cultural activities, but also meet high quality standards and expectations for specialisation, particularly in the advanced aesthetic education programmes.

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Folk high schools are willing and able to:

• Strengthen the role of folk high schools as lively cultural arenas. • Provide all participants with even better opportunities to express their own ideas and values through all the languages of art and thereby enhance understanding of the different needs of various individuals and groups. • Strengthen capacity and teacher skills to meet the high expectations of participants for arts programmes. • Contribute to local, regional and national development of cultural and creative industries. Study associations are willing and able to:

• Increase the number of readers in Sweden by expanding efforts to promote reading. • Further develop their diverse cultural offerings in order to attract those currently not culturally active. • Continue to take responsibility for ensuring that culture is available and that cultural participation is possible for people all over Sweden. • Provide everyone with the opportunity to take part in or enjoy culture on their own terms.

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Study associations A breakfast talk with a police officer, a lecture on design and brain research, democracy soup and conversation, a guided tour of the city wall in Visby or a language café. Study circles in everything under the sun: hip-hop, Chinese, felting, creative writing, photography, moss surveys, theatre or bible texts. The range offered by the ten study associations is large and varied – there is something for everyone. In all of Sweden’s municipalities, study associations offer people the chance for enlightenment, learning and culture. There are meetings around the country to develop people and communities. The ten study associations have different profiles and basic concepts. Together they have over 374 member and collaborative organisations at a central level. The profiles and orientations of the study associations are marked by the organisations with which they work and the fact that they originate from different parts of civil society. ABF sprang from the labour movement, Folkuniversitetet from the student associations of universities, Ibn Rushd from the Muslim movement, Medborgarskolan from what was then called Högerpartiet (now the Moderate Party), NBV from the temperance movement, Sensus from the Swedish Church, the salaried employees’ movement and the scouts, Studiefrämjandet from the cultural, outdoor and environmental movement, Studieförbundet Bilda from the free church movement, Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan from the rural movement and the new Kulturens Bildningsverksamhet from the non-profit cultural movement. At the heart is human curiosity, creativity and a desire to learn alongside others. Participation in a study circle is always voluntary. A large number of circles advertise in course programmes and on study association websites. Exciting subjects and knowledgeable leaders make this form of activity very popular. Lots of circles are also organised in cooperation with associations, and many start a study circle on their own initiative. Often there is a group of people who know one another and decide to learn something together. Study associations provide educational and practical support for groups.

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Folk high schools

ISBN: XXX-XX-XXXXX-XX-X Illustrations: Ninni Oljemark, Kombinera Graphic design and layout: Kombinera Printing: Katarina Tryck, Stockholm 2013

There are currently 150 folk high schools in Sweden. One hundred and seven of them are members of the Interest Organisation for Popular Movement Folk High Schools (RIO – Rörelsefolkhögskolornas intresseorganisation). Forty-three are run by county councils or regions, and are therefore linked to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL – Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting). RIO organises folk high school run by national popular social movements, local and regional organisations and independent foundations and associations. Folk high schools constitute a distinct type of school alongside other types of schools in the education system due to their unique nature in terms of activities, approach to teaching and organisation. They offer enlightenment activities and vocational training that in many cases is not offered by other types of schools. Due to the ideological diversity of their trustees and their regional profile, folk high schools offer freedom and flexibility and are able to meet new educational needs. These special courses account for half of all folk high school activities entitled to state financial support. Folk high schools are also able to offer qualifications that provide individuals with fresh opportunities and compensation for any deficits they previously experienced during their schooling. General courses are available at all folk high schools and give participants the opportunity to study for general entry qualifications, for instance for university education. Other folk high school activities involve short courses, cultural programmes, open folkbildning and social projects. The framework for folk high schools consists of: • Scope to profile activities • An admission system that often prioritises applicants with the greatest need for enlightenment/education • Locally adapted course syllabuses • A separate assessment system that measures aptitude for higher level studies • A separate quota for applicants to university/college • A separate folk high school teacher training programme and head teacher training programme • A self-management system


The document was adopted on 17 April 2013 by representatives of folk high schools and study associations at the meeting of the Swedish National Council of Adult Education’s representative body.

folkbildning's Direction & Intent

The Folkbildning’s Direction & Intent report is the result of extensive future planning which has involved committed work on the part of Swedish study associations and folk high schools for over two years. In this report, we, folkbildning as a whole, report our view of the role and tasks of folkbildning in current and future society.

folkbildning’s

Direction & Intent

It focuses on the five overarching priorities for Swedish folkbildning as a whole for the future: • Enlightenment & context • Accessibility & inclusion • Citizens & civil society • Working life & lifelong learning • Culture & creativity

On the role and tasks of Swedish study associations and folk high schools in current and future society


Folkbildning's Direction & Intent