Education International
Education International

Sweden: "This year everyone loves a teacher"

published 11 November 2014 updated 13 November 2014

The newly elected Education Minister of Sweden, Gustav Fridolin, plans to support the rebuilding of the teaching profession. He wants to prevent that politicians dictate teachers what and how to teach.

In his address to Swedish education union Lärarförbundet's Congress, Mr Fridolin, who himself was a teacher, emphasised the importance the Swedish Government gives to the development of early childhood education.

Also, Swedish teachers can look forward to an improvement of their terms and employment conditions. The country expects a shortage of 43,000 teachers by 2020. There is an understanding between the Government and Lärarförbundet that joining the teaching profession must become an attractive career choice for young people.

Lärarförbundet, the largest member union of Education International in the Nordic countries with 235,000 members, is holding its quadrennial congress.

Lärarförbundet President Eva-Lis Sirén told delegates in her address that she was hopeful that the new goverment would deliver on the promises made during the election campaign. The previous government pursued education reforms which were not always supported by the teaching profession. Teachers' workload increased while salaries remained low compared to neighbouring countries. The country was shocked when Sweden took a dive in PISA scoresin 2013. This brought education back on the country's political agenda. Sixty percent of the voters said that their vote during the parliamentary election last September  had depended on the priority that parties were willing to give to education.

"This year everyone loves a teacher," Sirén quoted from an article in one of the main Swedish newspapers, analysing the election results and concluding that the Swedish teachers were the real winners of the recent elections. "This is because of all the hard work of Lärarförbundet and its members have done in the past few years," she said. "Now we are being rewarded."

Eva-Lis Sirén, who has led Lärarförbundet since 2001, will not seek reelection as the union's President. A member of the national executive committee, Johanna Jaara Astrand, is seen as the likely successor of Ms. Sirén, to be elected on 14 November.

EI and Lärarförbundet: united for quality education

EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, speaking at the opening of the Congress, thanked Lärarförbundet for their active involvement in the Unite for Quality Education Campaign. He invited the Swedish government to support EI's efforts to have education adopted as a stand-alone goal in the UN post-2015 development agenda and "to play a leading role at the UN Assembly in September 2015 in persuading other member states to make quality education for all a top priority for the UN in the coming 15 years."