Sweden: Government increases funding for better qualified teachers
Lärarförbundet, one of EI’s affiliates in Sweden, has welcomed the commitment by its government to invest SEK7 billion (US$1 billion) over the next four years to improve teacher training, raise the standard of mathematics teaching and improve completion rates in the humanities and social sciences.
Lärarförbundet President and EI Executive Board member, Eva-Lis Sirén, noted:
“In its budget proposal, the Government brings important investments to establish proper career paths for teachers. This goes into the right direction, as it is essential to increase teachers' salaries and the status of the teaching profession to develop quality education.”
The Swedish Minister of Finance, Anders Borg, unlike too many of his European colleagues, took the decision of expanding the education budget to tackle the current economic crisis. This decision follows a pledge by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to make major investment in teacher training for 2012-15 in the framework of education reforms.
The increased funding addresses the impact of comparatively low salaries for teachers in Sweden, set by local rather than national government. Swedish teachers are currently poorly paid compared with other professions. The wage difference between teachers recently graduated and those with 15 years of experience or more is also very low. As a result, the profession is no longer attracting the brightest graduates and many of the best teachers are leaving. Jan Björklund, Minister of Education and Research, regretted: "Some decades ago, top echelons of the cohorts of young people were seeking a career as a teacher. This is no longer the case. Recent surveys show that candidates accepted at teacher training colleges and universities have significantly lower grades compared to 20 years ago." The planned investments further focus on providing 'career paths' to ensure that teachers actively increasing their competencies through more education will be financially rewarded. Altogether eight actions will be supported by the government, including the establishment of a doctoral school for teacher training, and support for leadership training for head teachers.