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Adult education, knowledge expansion, and local steering: Analysis of some themes in the Swedish education system

Desmond Ayim-Aboagye1
Uppsala University
Uppsala, Sweden
The knowledge expansion project has just been completed with its final year having expired at the year 2002.

Many people including participants at the municipal adult schools and adult education sector as a whole have

witnessed the implementation of this project and the benefits it has generated to ordinary citizens and the

immigrant population at large in diverse municipalities. The present study analyses the adult education sector in

the country and touches upon the ideas regarding the recent reforms and political steering relegated to the local

level by the central government. The consequences of this project and the effect on an immigrant population are

discussed to see to what extent these individuals have benefited from the knowledge expansion project. The

experiences of the municipalities are also discussed to find out the success of a national project from the

perspective of those who have participated in its promulgation. The result of the work shows the government

effort to make cultural capital as well as education capital accessible to ordinary citizens in their effort to

embark on the societification of the state.
Key words: Education, cultural capital, education capital, knowledge expansion, reforms, decentralization,

steering, evaluation, supervision, development, and local actor

Sweden system of education has undergone two phases of reforms that have gained attention

from local as well as international researchers. Strict mechanisms of centralization and

regulation characterize the first phase that commenced after the post war and ended in the

1970s. This was the period when a goal such as equality was emphasized and the purpose of

the organization that took place was to structure the school system. The government became

the supreme agent that governed the school system, and with the implementation of sundry

mechanisms, their aims were dictated to the local authorities. Some well-known mechanisms

employed by the state during the first phase extend from the provision of national curricula,

the issuing of state subsidies, regulation of resources, staff organization, and so on.

Reforms in the second phase began after the 1970s and saw its momentum in the

late 80s. The Swedish government embarked on decentralization and deregulation. The period

saw a great deal of changes particularly in the area of education policy. Researchers described

this transition as a shift from centralism, universals, social engineering and consensus to

decentralization, particulars, and polarization with ideas of the market economy as structuring

principles. The consequence of the shift was the relegation of increased responsibility and

freedom to the municipalities and also professional freedom as regards the way teachers;

school boards make appropriate choices to achieve their objectives or goals. Reform at the

1 Desmond Ayim-Aboagye is an Associate Professor in Åbo Akademi, Finland and Uppsala University, Sweden.

second phase was significant as all parties including the socialist and non-socialist

governments contributed to its implementation. These reforms introduced the establishment of

independent schools, otherwise known as private schools, issuing of vouchers and the issuing

of government subsidies to the local governments.
The purpose of this study is to examine the recent changes or reforms and the strategies of

steering that occurred particularly in the second phase of reforms in the area of adult

education. What specific changes took place at the state and local levels in connection with

adult education? How were the local authorities to work or implement the reforms that came

about? In what way did this program contribute to the organization of the adult education

sector as a whole in Sweden?
Different forms of organizers
Adult education in Sweden is part of the public school system that is regulated under the

Education Act.2 It consists of municipal adult education, Swedish language instruction for

adult immigrants, adult education for the intellectual disabilities, and national schools for

adults.3 While the municipalities govern the rest of the adult education system, the

government controls the national schools for adults. Folk high schools and adult education

associations are also part of the adult education controlled by the municipalities. Of late one

reckons the labor market adult education, professional qualification schools, supplementary

schools, and university colleges as part of the adult education system in the country.4

Municipal education for adults commenced in 1968. During the years of

1992/93 this system of education came to embrace basic education for adults, upper

secondary adult education, and supplementary education for adults. Adult students who

participated in this type of education come to possess formal qualifications in single subjects

that have been taken or can have the equivalent of a complete leaving certificate from the

compulsory school and/or from the upper secondary school.5 As education is organized in the

form of separate courses, adult students can study at the same time and work full-time or parttime.

Students choose their own study programs as a result they are able to combine courses

2 The knowledge expansion project committee defines what adult education consists of: Education for adults

refers to all education that everybody goes through after the pre-school, compulsory school and upper secondary

school levels which children/youth normally follow continuously unbroken. Adult education compensates the

early education that one discontinued, the early education that one did not enroll, the supplementation of early

education that qualifies an individual for the labor market, and the commencement of a new area of

specialization that interest the individual at present (SOU 2000:28).

3 SOU 1998:51; Cf. also The Swedish education system (1997).

4 SOU 2000:28.
5 According to the Swedish law only those who are 20 years and above could participate in adult education

organized by the municipalities. As regards upper secondary adult education and supplementary education for

adult younger students can be admitted provided they have already obtained or have had prior secondary

education (Skollagen, 11 kap. 10§. 19§)
from both compulsory and upper secondary level. Adult education in this area does not have

examinations or requirements for entrance. It is argued that education is a right for the citizen

and should be mandatory for the municipalities. As basic adult education provides knowledge

and skills that is equal to the education the compulsory school intends to give, the Upper

secondary adult education also furnishes participants skills and knowledge that is equal to

youth education at the upper secondary level. The latter makes all programs and subjects

available to students with the exception of aesthetic and sports subjects. The national upper

secondary school time-schedules are employed as guidelines for the upper secondary adult

education. Supplementary adult education makes available vocational courses that are not

found in the youth syllabus. Courses given in these areas furnish adult school graduates with

higher professional competence or competence in a new chosen profession. During the

1995/96 academic year 152 600 students participated in the basic adult education program,

862 600 in the upper secondary adult education and supplementary education for adults.6

Intellectual disability adults have access to instruction in compulsory school and

also vocational education in the upper secondary school. In all 3 620 pupils participated in

adult education for the intellectually handicapped during the 1995/96 academic year. Of this

number 8% followed the upper secondary school, 52% were in the compulsory school while

40% enrolled in the vocational education.7
The National adult education at a distance consists of two schools that give

instructions through distance learning. The schools, which are situated in Härnösand and

Norrköping, recruit students throughout the country. These are students who due to some

reasons could not be enrolled in the adult education courses that are offered by the municipal

adult education. Statistics provides information that during the 1995/96 academic year 12 350

students enrolled in the National distance adult education. Out of this number, 11 700 read in

the upper secondary education, 450 in the supplementary adult education, and 200 in the basic

adult education.8
Swedish language instruction for immigrants is offered to the newly arrived

immigrants who have managed to obtain their particulars and allowed stay in the country.

These immigrants are offered the possibility to study Swedish language for an average of 525

hours. The responsibility rests on the municipalities who are obliged to provide tuition for

these immigrants. The study provides basic knowledge and proficiency in Swedish language

and furthermore furnishes the newly migrant about the Swedish society. Among the 51 500

people who participated in Swedish language training in 1995/96 academic year, around 32

000 had received 10 years education or more while nearly 8 500 had obtained 6 years or less

education in their original country of birth. Bosnians/Croatians/Serbians dominated making a

total of 33.5%, followed by the Arabs 11.8%, and the Albanians 8.6%.9

Folk high schools and adult education associations are the oldest forms of

organized adult education in Sweden. In 1998 they make up a number of 147 which are

operated by local governments and private mandators.10 Both long-term and short-cycle

courses are offered in the Folk high schools. Students often reside in tuition-free schools and

pay their own board and lodging. Those who intend to apply for State study assistance could

apply for it. The 11 adult education associations in the country employ study circles as well

as organize courses that correspond to those taught in the school system and within higher

education. They also provide cultural activities. Adult education proposition in 1991 provided

the information which states that education at this level should promote democracy, equality,

6 SOU 1998:51.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Skolverket 1997.
10SOU 1998:51.
international and cultural understanding, as well as development. Educational activities

should be based on independent search for knowledge that is characterized by democratic

values and co-operation.11
Folk high school and adult education associations receive subsidies from the

state. Parliament intention as stated in the 1991 reveals that the purpose is to support

education activities which make it possible for individuals to influence their life situations

through their engagement in society's development. Furthermore, they receive incomes from

educational activities organized on a commission basis. Municipalities usually provide grants

for adult education associations to supplement the fees they charge its' students.

In 1998 when the government presented to parliament a new adult education

proposition that is, Prop. 1997/98:115, he reiterated the two significant purposes for issuing

state funds to adult education. Subsidies should be provided to strengthen and develop

democracy at the same time to enhance cultural interest in society in order to widen

participation in cultural life. Knowledge on natural and technical sciences should augment

attention in education. Not surprisingly, this proposition calls to attention the unemployed

citizens as the target group.12 In table 1 information as to the number of adult students who

took part in the various programs in adult education is presented. Folk high schools had the

highest number of students reaching as high as 350 000.

Table 1. Statistics 1995-1996 (adapted from The Swedish educational system, March 1997)

Adult Education Number of participants
Municipal adult education 211 00
National schools for adults 12 300
Intellectual disabilities adult school 3 600
Swedish language for immigrants 51 500
Folk high schools (long term courses) 350 000
Labor Market13 and professional qualification schools also form part of the adult learners.

Education at this level is usually geared toward competence development of personnel, a good

source of lifelong learning. The AMU Group Company14 in co-operation with the labor

market and other companies usually organize courses for workers who study part-time and

attend courses in the evenings. Some even follow courses during working hours.15 During the

budget year of 1995/96 as many as 217 400 people participated in some form of the Labor

market adult education program. A smaller percentage of those who go through these adult

education programs continue to universities and university colleges.

To summarize, adult education program in Sweden is rather old. This sector

provides an important source of education for many adult citizens as well as foreigners who

migrate into Sweden. Courses are organized such that individuals who want to work could do

so and study at the same time. Prior to the implementation of the knowledge expansion

project individual learners have pursued their careers through participation in the adult

11 Folkbildningsrådet 1997.
12 Prop. 1997/98:115.
13 Some well-known Labor market parties in Sweden are LO, TCO, ABF, SAF, SACO and SAF-PTK (SOU

14 Apart from this company that there are other private companies such as MiROI, Eductus, Lexicon and

InfoKomp Companies that organize courses for personnel regarding competence development in working life.

15 SOU 1998:51; SOU 2000:28.
education programs in different municipalities. It is asserted that many elite including

politicians has gained their education through class attendance at adult education centers in

the municipalities and also through distances learning.

Lifelong and lifewide perspective
The theoretical model of social capital, which consists of structure and norms, depicted as

social norms along a continuum, extending from formal norms to informal norms, have of late

been amalgamated into lifelong-lifewide perspective. The latter perspective, which discusses

formal and informal learning that, takes place in the lifelong perspective states that

individuals receive educational influences right from the day they are born till the time of

their death. The two perspectives, lifelong and lifewide learning, consist of the microperspective

and macro-perspective. The macro-perspective accounts for a lifelong

perspective, originating from the birth of a person till his death. This entails the total

influences the person has imbibed from education as a whole. The macro-perspective

describes that formal schooling experience is short as compared to the overall lifelong

perspective. Institutionalized educational influences are discussed in this perspective to

indicate the extent to which they have influenced the individual. The education received at

school is recognized as institutionalized (this takes place between 5 years of age and

completed around 10 and 25 years of age, depending of the pupil's country in question).

Cropley (1980) through his work informs us that the least institutionalized influences in

education are equivalent to informal education while the most institutionalized influences in

education are equal to formal education. Educational influences, on the other hand, describe

the micro perspective, which is the extent to which the individual has been exposed to

influences in education.
The lifelong and lifewide perspective, it seems to me, can offer us an interesting

conceptual background to the knowledge expansion project which we shall discuss below.

This former and latter concepts, together with organization concepts, such as state legality 16

(which means the governing of schools in the form of government dictated curricula, rule

systems etc.) and social legitimacy17 (the non-formal mechanisms of steering which are

revealed in the forms of rituals, traditions, school code, trends of public opinion and oral

rules) can be dealt with in greater detail. But as at now we are only providing these concepts,

as a framework to support the knowledge enhancement notion that is to be analyzed in detail

in the adult education sector.
I would like to discuss reforms and the strategies of steering that have of late taken place in

connection with adult education. What do we mean by this “knowledge expansion” and what

specific reforms occurred in the state and local levels in connection with adult education?

There were two main actors in the national level; these comprise the committee

assigned to work with the project (who commenced its work in 1995) and also the

government who was the main authoritative actor behind its promulgation. Both the

committee and the government had their respective goals in connection with the knowledge

expansion project. The Committee, who presented its first report in En strategi för

kunskapslyft och livslångt lärande (SOU 1996:26), discussed their aim in relation to four

16 Here legality means social actions and social relations that are formally sanctioned by the state.

17 Legitimacy concerns the elusive phenomena as morals and systems of values.

dimensions, namely youth education, lifelong learning, knowledge expansion and

infrastructure. In their later assignment, apart from their main work of engineering reforms in

the adult education sector, the government entrusted the committee with the responsibility to

evaluate the knowledge expansion project and also to investigate the social situation of

students with intellectual disabilities.18
The committee as an actor
Youth education meant basic education, upper secondary school and college education that

the young child goes through to prepare him for adult life. The committee believed that youth

education laid a necessary ground for lifelong learning. Education whether in the case of the

individual, ends in basic level, upper secondary level or college should provide the pupil a

real ground to commence lifelong learning as an individual, citizen, and a professional

worker. The state and the municipal authorities should therefore bear the main responsibility

for youth education together with the parents of the pupils. If the child was to develop the

resources useful for his cognitive or social development both parents had to contribute to this

social capital a necessary advantage for children and adolescents in the development of their

own human capital. Youth education should open up greater possibilities for further studies

and personal development to enable the individual become a good citizen and play a

professional role. It should provide the pupil knowledge and ability to create and the capacity

to imbibe knowledge and manage changes in society.19

Lifelong learning refers to formal and informal learning.20 Education and

learning can occur in different situations such as everyday contacts in work places and

beyond. According to the committee everyone must be given the opportunity to participate

and enjoy in lifelong learning. Lifelong learning in the work place/working life is a common

interest to both the individual and the labor market.21 Co-operation between the labor market

and the state/municipalities is a necessary one to attract increase investments of education in

the working life. The state or the municipalities through the knowledge enhancement program

should be there as a protecting net by opening new possibilities and supplementing lifelong

learning in work places through personal development such as professional role of the

Infrastructure provides individuals the possibilities to make appropriate choices of

education suitable to them and also the organizers to attract the potential students they need.

The primary conditions for educational activities and learning makes it imperative to have

18 (Cf. SOU 2000:28). The knowledge expansion project committee has issued a number of publications which

includes SOU 1996:164 Livslångt lärande i arbetslivet- steg på vägen mot ett kunskapssamhälle, SOU 1996:188

Vuxenutbildare ser på sig själva, SOU 1997:120 Vuxenpedagogik i Sverige- Forskning, utbildning, utveckling-

En kartläggning, SOU 1997:158 Vuxenpedagogik i teori och praktik- kunskapslyftet i fokus, SOU 1999:39

Vuxenutbildning för alla? - Andra året med kunskapslyftet, SOU 1999:141 Från kunskaplyftet till en Strategi för

livslångt Lärande. Ett perspektiv på svensk vuxenutbildningspolitik.

19 SOU 1998:51
20 Lifelong learning can even occur during childhood through contact with leisure-hours schools for the children

(fritid) and also at ordinary schools for children. Adults on the other hand can obtain their lifelong learning as

grown-ups everyday through their contacts with others outside around the world. But a greater part of adult

lifelong learning takes place at the work environment and through studies (SOU 2000:28).

21 Professional life is effective and it is experienced as fair. That Sweden has been successful in creating a high

productivity professional life is due to the fact that there had been a huge investment in the professional working

life. Furthermore, individuals have been given full opportunity to utilize and develop their competence.

Consequently this has made Sweden attractive country for companies to invest. Research in the lifelong learning

has provided understanding of the need to balance technique and humanism (Cf. SOU 2000:28, p.189).

22 SOU 1998:51.
available within reach such resources as information capital, educational counseling, research

and appropriate manner of financing courses and their organizers.23 Infrastructure consists of:

• Information, counseling, search for activities and individual's study guide

• A system of judging knowledge and competency independent from where they have been

• Access to a broad education offer of good quality

• Follow-up, evaluation and research for education system with long-term continuous

• An articulated financing system
The committee sounded it clear that it is the responsibility of the state/municipalities and also

the parents to make provision for and guarantee a good infrastructure.24

By “knowledge expansion”, the committee meant to strengthen educational possibilities for

those adults who have less formal education, in other words education capital should be

provided to all lacking it. Committee members contended that there are some groups in the

society who risk of being marginalized and be thrown away from the labor market simply

because they lack the prerequisites that enable them to participate in lifelong learning. It is

these groups that adult education must aim toward to equip these individuals with the

necessary education capital. These deprived individuals should be offered the chance to study

in the basic school and upper secondary school education. The state and the municipalities

should bear the responsibility of knowledge expansion in co-operation with those individuals

who will participate in it.
From the perspective of the labor market there were two groups who attention

should be directed toward. Firstly, those who have never been offered the possibility on the

labor market because they simply lack education and secondly those who intend to apply to

labor market due to the precarious nature of their work and are liable to become jobless in no

time in the near future. These individuals' need of knowledge are not the same, they have

different needs. What the expansion project could do was to go a bit further than basic

education and provide these individuals with upper secondary school courses or the

equivalent to enable them become eligible to work and through this is able to contribute

towards development in society.
There are certain groups of people who are the main subjects of those needing

knowledge expansions. They include people with long history of unemployment, those who

make their livelihood on social support, disability group, immigrants, and the aged.

Furthermore, the risk group also includes the youth who had just graduated from secondary

school but have not managed to obtain the right results. The middle age who possess outdated

professions, women in certain health and office professions, individuals with reading and

writing difficulties, and those who no longer receive the unemployment benefits.

The knowledge expansion project and lifelong education, according to the

committee, had a super ordinate strategy that will enable Sweden to develop into knowledgebased

society where everybody has real possibilities to participate in the development in

society. The government and for that matter the municipalities should therefore ensure that

justice is absolutely practiced in connection with the implementation of this program.

23 Ibid.
24 Infrastructure consist of many ingredients such as teachers, textbooks, teaching help or aids, information

technique, information, supervision, recruitment activities, validation, libraries, the labor market, financing

system, the implementation of laws/regulations, justice system and local authorities (SOU 2000:28).

Finally, the committee felt that education prerequisites should be strengthened

within one of the above-mentioned dimensions: youth education, knowledge expansion,

lifelong learning, and infrastructure. These dimensions are interconnected with one another in

a total perspective as a result goals should be formulated coupled with a well-defined strategy

in order to carry out the knowledge expansion and lifelong learning.25

The government as an actor
We find in several propositions that prior to the promulgation of the knowledge expansion

program the state had earlier on planned to invest in education.26 For example, before the

committee could come up with their already finished report in 1996, the state had made

tremendous investment in education concerning the enhancement of competence. The

committee's preliminary report and the remittances, which followed it, could be regarded as a

backdrop to the state decision of how special investment could be made. Following this, the

state in June 1996 made its final decision concerning the knowledge expansion project. This

was enshrined in what was then called “employment proposition” to be made possible for the

parliament to decide on it.27
The original commencement of the expansion project took place in July 1, 1997

(and ended in 2002) and as might be expected 110 000 vacant places in education were

created. Of these number the school of professional studies absorbed 5 000, the folk high

school received 10 000 places for basic education and upper secondary. The rest of the places

were given to the municipalities that is, 90 000 places for the upper secondary school, and 5

000 for the basic education. It is at this point that the state counseled the municipalities to take

control of the project. One caution was sounded, that was, not to arrange all education with

respect to the upper secondary by themselves, but on the contrary they should employ the

services of adult education actors and other education organizers. The state reminded the

municipalities that knowledge expansion project should be characterized with new thinking

and flexibility at the same time they should not forget to adapt the courses to the interest and

needs of the people who enroll as students. In this case the government was thinking about not

only those Swedish with less education but also immigrants whose need of the Swedish

language could be assets to enable them gain access to the labor market.

The Immigrant and equality factor
It can be asserted that immigrants and asylum seekers had a special place in the minds of the

knowledge expansion committee members and the government alike.28 According to

historians, the influx of immigrants into Sweden changed character after the Second World

War. First, thirty years after the war many people migrated into Sweden. These had been

people from the neighboring countries (Finland, former Yugoslavia, Nordic countries) who

moved in for employment purpose. Between 1980 and 1990 migration to Sweden has changed

from the employment purpose to asylum seekers (in need for protection from their host

country) who hail from other part of the world with cultural capital, backgrounds and

languages quite distinct from the Swedes. If these people had to be accommodated and

compete in the labor market they needed to communicate and must have the social

25 SOU 1998:51.
26 Cf. Prop. 1995/96:25; Prop. 1995/96:150; Prop. 1995/96:222.

27 Prop. 1995/96:222.
28 Cf. Boman 2002:263 ff. Lindensjö & Lundgren 1986:60 ff.

competence to enable them do so. They must also have access to the resources endowed by

the possession of social capital. The continuous incoming of immigrants with their cultural

capital and language differences signified the need of the government to embark on the

integration process. This has changed the manner the society deal with immigrants as Sweden

has emerged from the transition from immigrant politics to integration politics. This implies

that people from other countries rather than Sweden are not to be considered a group in need

of special help because they are immigrants. The important thing is that immigrant 29 should

have the same rights and opportunities, irrespective of their cultural backgrounds.30 This

mobilization and integration of excluded groups; immigrants and communities have now

become one of the many of the new strategies for building social capital.

The education grant as an important steering resource

The project was connected to a special financing strategy by which participants were to

receive study grants. During autumn 1999 the government decided on a new study grant

which would come into force in 2001. These are grants not repayable and it assisted the less

educated unemployed students to study at the basic education level as well as upper secondary

school level with the amount that is equal to that of the unemployed compensation benefit.31

As mentioned above the committee that was charged with the responsibility to work on

knowledge expansion project discussed their goals in connection with youth education,

knowledge expansion, lifelong learning, and infrastructure. The state on the other hand had

different goals that were politically significant. First, there was the goal of reducing

unemployment, which would in turn enhance growth in the economy. Second, the knowledge

expansion program was to inject new thinking into the adult education sector in order to

stimulate and cause change. In the political sense, these goals were significant and were

appropriate at the period when unemployment was very high.

Economic growth versus unemployment32
29 The education of immigrants (professional competence) is now to be validated so that they can even be used

on the labor market. This pilot study has been documented in SOU 2001:78.

30 SOU 2000:28.
31 SOU 1998:51. There were different grants that include social welfare support, education grants, study loans,

unemployment benefits and many others. But the special studies support studiestöd and särskilt

utbildningsbidrag were the main government support specially decided for knowledge expansion project (SOU

32 The future need of education for citizens in Sweden is stressed based on the following reasons: * work for

those with low education are rapidly being disappeared * employees as well as their bosses have observed the

rising need of competent workers * compared to other countries Sweden does not necessarily have high Upper

secondary school graduates * a greater percentage of people risks of being thrown out of the labor market due to

their lack of education: people with disability, those with citizenship from other countries other than the Nordic

countries who have low education, outdated professions, and finally, the youth who could not successfully

passed their Upper secondary school education. * a higher education level and a higher percentage of

unemployed pursuing their education provide the society with economic effects (SOU 2000:28)

The aim of the state to reduce the number of unemployed citizens was at the heart of the

knowledge expansion project. If the number of those studying at both colleges and also adult

education could be increased it would lead to less unemployment in the society. As this

became one of the political goals the state made it imperative to increase the vacant places in

both college education and also the adult education program. The expansion project focused

on those who had low education capital and were on the verge of being marginalized or

thrown out from the labor market. It was understood that being offered great opportunity to

increase their competence would ultimately furnish them with knowledge capital that will

make them eligible to compete in the labor market. Consequently, this will provide them with

the possibilities to enjoy richer lives that will in turn enhance their self-confidence and greater

possibility to influence their own social situations due to their acquisition of economic

The state consciousness to give priority to those lacking strong education capital

was also connected to the idea of offering these individuals the possibilities to acquire modern

professions that the present-day industries require and strive after. As they become easily

absorbed in the modern-day labor market it will lead to increased income distribution in the

knowledge-based society.
Furthermore the state was also aware that increase knowledge and competence

of the greater part of citizens and their possibility to obtain job or easy access to the labor

market would be associated with increase in productivity. The knowledge expansion project,

coupled with other measures, could provide greater possibilities to Sweden to compete with

other countries internationally in competence and knowledge. Obviously this will lead to

increase in productivity and growth. Expansion projects like social capital will contribute to

stability and prosperity. The latter has been seen to function beneficially because it fosters

high expectations of reciprocity and facilitates information flows in society.

The Development in the Adult education sector.
The government was not only interested in the economic growth of the country by its

introduction of the knowledge expansion project. Expansion of people's knowledge was also

to convey a change in the sector of adult education to which I have elaborated below. This

idea of change of responsibility from the state to the municipalities was what has been termed

decentralization.34 The state charged the municipalities to regulate and carried out this project

by utilizing all resources in the education sector including adult education and folk high

schools. The state demanded a more regulated adult education where the needs of individuals

will be focused. Consideration should be given to those who have less education and the

municipalities is to concern itself in recruiting and maintaining these marginalized individuals

to apply to study. Thus the importance of knowledge expansion project was also to help

reform the system of organization including those pedagogy/teaching methods in education.35

The state employment proposition in 1996 outlined some of the things that the

municipalities should take into consideration as they embark on knowledge expansion project

at the local level.
• The labor market education program as well as the need of competencies in the

municipalities' education activities should be investigated.

• This should be able to guide and control the direction of the expansion project.

33 SOU 1998:51.
34 Cf. SOU 2000:28, pp. 181 ff.
35 Ibid.
• Even though the municipalities already could employ the resources of adult education in

this project the possibilities was also there to utilize other private mandators or organizers.

• Adults who had no profession or had not completed their professional careers should be

given the possibility to finish in the upper secondary school.

• In connection with the expansion project, the municipalities should invest heavily in

professional courses.
• Education at a distance should be organized to give opportunity for those who do not have

access to living in the urban areas.
• Education centers should be open in work places to give access to the adult students who

work but want to have more information and get them enrolled.

The municipalities were also responsible to inform and recruit individuals as well as motivate

them to obtain professions through adult education study program. They were to provide

counseling resources for those who request for it. In one way adult education purpose could

be seen as the possibility of bridging ties between those in disadvantages communities and

those who already have access to a range of resources that may be present outside those

communities. This may be particularly important with respect to minority ethnic communities,

who to some extent may be separate from dominant groups by language as well as space and

way of life. This approach therefore offers possibilities for the construction of an inclusive

social citizenship.
It is not only a matter of planning for the implementation of the knowledge

expansion program for the benefit of the less educated, the unemployed and those who intend

to better their chances of getting to the labor market that were significant. The municipalities

were also entrusted with the responsibility to conduct follow-up and evaluation studies. They

were also advised to seek the co-operation of the labor market and its different parties (e.g.,

the labor market institute, and regional social insurance) on this matter.36

The state goal could only be realized if the municipalities do their work well as

they had contributed to it development in the past. The expansion of knowledge project

should not be regarded as an independent venture aside from what the municipalities had

already given. The municipalities should endeavor to integrate it with the already-existing

adult education sector so as to enable development occur within the whole education sector. It

was surmised that the knowledge expansion program could be the foundation for reforms

within the entire adult education system.
The committee that was entrusted with the responsibility to work on the knowledge expansion

project, unveiled four different organizational approaches, that is, concerning how adult

education should be organized. They included local steering, procedures of giving courses,

duration of courses, and distance studies in the expansion program with the utilization of

information technology.37 I should like here to discuss the first-mentioned, which concerns

the transfer of steering powers to the local authorities by the central government.

36 Prop. 1995/96:222.
37 The contents of the courses have been discussed briefly in our earlier presentation on the historical accounts of

adult education. It will suffice to mention here that some courses are studied at the Upper secondary level that

can be built upon as one decides to enter higher learning institution, i.e., at the university. For analysis of the

method utilized in distance education and the development of pedagogy read SOU 1999:39.

Recently different researchers have written on political steering of the

government and its transfer of powers to the local authorities. They have even conducted

empirical studies within many municipalities in diverse parts of the country. Lundahl has

written two articles, which concern the transfer of the state governing to local steering. They

are A new kind of order: Swedish policy texts related to governance, social inclusion and

exclusion in the 1990s (2000) and Governance of education and its consequences. Interviews

with Swedish politicians and administrators (2001). Lindblad, Lundahl & Zackari have also

written an article Sweden: Increased inequalities- increased stress on individual agency

(2001). These works discuss changes in society and the labor market and its concomitant

changes in the education sector, that is, education governance.

The change, which occurred in the steering of knowledge expansion project

also, concerns the governing of adult education in its entirety. As mentioned elsewhere, due to

inefficient use of resources, which had occurred under centralization strategy, the ground had

already been prepared by the successive governments to make policy changes. There was a

growing dissatisfaction concerning the manner differences in class, gender, and geographical

origin of pupils were being handled by certain schools. This failed of attempt to minimize

class differences in schools was one of the reasons why the central government embarked on

steering changes. According to Lundahl (2001:339) “it was believed that resources were

better used and the task to create good quality equal education was better solved if means and

methods were chosen at the local level rather than by the state.” This change was a major leap

in policy in which Lindblad & Wallin (1993) and also Lindblad (1994) have characterized it

as a shift from centralism, universalism, social engineering and consensus to decentralization,

particularism and polarization which contains notions of the market economy as its

structuring principles.
I should like to emphasize that different researchers have already attempted to

comprehend and explain why the state through the centralization strategy failed in its task of

steering. Lindblad (1980) as well as Du Rietz et al. (1987) have attempted to explain by

concentrating on the content or the internal apparatus of the state steering. Among other

things state's position of authority in society was considered rather weak as a result it could

not fulfill its function of issuing strong educational policies for governing. Thus educational

policies were issued in vague and ambiguous terms which were not conducive in effecting

changes in the value-base reinforced in educational institutions. Rothstein (1985) has also

offered a sound discussion by attributing the government's failure to the methods of the

reform implementation. He contends that governing does not only concern the content of

steering but also how it is to be accomplished, that is, the strategy of implementing it.

Rothstein issued a critic against the state educational administration strategies concerning the

way reforms are implemented in the education sector. The work of Lindensjö and Lundgren

(1986) attempted to reveal both the contents of steering and the reform implementation as

problems that hindered the steering strategy adopted by the central government. This is

discussed in their reasoning on the subject of the “arena of formulation and realization”.

Stenelo (1987) and Berg (1989) by concentrating on the failures that are attributed to the

content of the steering and also the methods of the reform implementation that was poorly

executed added yet another reason, which concerns the preparedness of the recipients of the

reform. To them the manner in which its various citizens accommodate a state reform depends

on the degree of the preparedness of its actors. The preparedness of an actor entails his

knowledge, skills, and attitudes that concern the surrounding and context where the reforms

are to be transformed into educational practice. In Berg (1992) words:

There must be an actor preparedness, which corresponds to the value-base on which the state educational

reforms are based … if the state reform intentions- despite their ambiguity- are to fall on fertile soil. To put

simply this means those teachers; school administrators and others must embrace an ideology of which the state

claims to be a wholehearted advocate. If such is the case, the necessary preconditions exist for changing- by

means of a pincer movement- the value-base consolidated in the school institution, should not only devote itself

to traditional reform work, but also mobilize resources for changing the actor preparedness in a direction that is

in agreement with its curriculum code (legitimacy).38

In the case of adult education, parliamentary decisions made between 1989-1991 led to the

radical change and ushered in this transition period where a clearer division of responsibilities

between the central and local political level occurred. Adult education and all forms of the

government-financed education were no longer to be governed by rules but instead by

objectives. This implied that educational activity of different levels in the municipalities;

schools and classrooms should be less dependent on rules. Instead interest and priority should

be focused on account taking and evaluation of results of all school activities.39 Lindensjö &

Lundgren (1986) have already commented upon this change of education strategy, which was

implemented at the local level, earlier. Their interpretation is that goal and result steering

implies that the national political leadership will formulate the detailed goal for those public

activities, and then entrust the local leadership as to how they can be implemented and reach

the goal. The government in this case did not only made the arenas of implementation local

but to a growing extent the state made the arenas of policy formulation rightly located at the

local level. These propositions in the 1990s also advocated for increased professional

responsibilities of teachers and school leaders as central aspect of educational change.

Teachers, as a result of increased professional freedom, were to choose content and methods

due to the replacement of rule governing by goal governing.

The process of decentralization is comprehended as a shift of power from the

state to the society that can be described in other words as making it easier to let social rules

to function. This relegation of power to the local level can be signified as a process towards

“societification of the state” implying that steering on the basis of legality40 (formal, written

objectives, instructions, and rules) is lessen in favor of that based on legitimacy41 (unwritten

rules that may be local historically conditioned).
Municipalities and steering experiences
How do we comprehend what the local municipalities should do? Or how is the steering at

local level to be carried out? Which individuals bear the different responsibilities assigned by

the state to the municipalities?
One needs to understand that those schools that form the public school system

for the adult education includes municipal education for adults, intellectually handicapped

adults schools, the national adult education at a distance, Swedish language instruction for

immigrants, and a large percentage of Folk high schools owned by private individuals or

organizations. A brief description of what they consist of and their respective activities they

engage in have been presented already in the section above. In every municipality there were

to be municipality's school plan that stipulates how the public school for the adult should be

formed and organized. Measures were to be taken as regards how the municipality should

work and reach the goal the state has set or put forward. Each municipality was also to make

it a priority to continuously conduct a follow-up and evaluation of the school plan.

39 SOU 1998:51.
40 Here legality means social actions and social relations that are formally sanctioned by the state.

41 Legitimacy concerns the elusive phenomena as morals and systems of values.

It is the responsibility of the leader elected by the municipality to head the public school

system of adult education and to see to it that the School law and other regulations and

ordinances are followed. 42 The municipality board members should appoint a number of

committees such as child and education committee, the secondary school committee, the

school board committee, and so on. Only one committee could join the labor market and adult

education together under one umbrella to be mind.
The Principal should be seen as the leader of a school and he/she should take

care of day to day matters of the school. He should also be responsible for the implementation

of the education plan and the development of the school. The Principal should also take

control of the writing and issuing of educational certificates.

The highest agent of the students should be the Student Council, which can be

affiliated with the National Union of Student Organization. According to the committee for

knowledge expansion project, the public school system for adult education sector should have

a special relationship with the State highest educational authority, for example, the National

Agency of Education and also the State Institute for the Handicapped. The National Agency

of Education responsibility is to regularly conduct follow-up, evaluation, and supervision. The

municipalities should therefore make sure that they fulfill their assignments entrusted to them

also, that is, the steering and evaluation of the adult education or school activities. It must be

emphasized that it is the goal and result-steered activities that must be evaluated.43

Evaluation is a necessary step to enhance knowledge concerning the phenomenon that is

being evaluated. The support one gives to evaluation reveals the acceptance and the

acceleration of pedagogy development in schools.
The private folk high schools, though much free than the municipal folk high

school, still have to fulfill certain demands put on them by the state. Like their counterparts

the private folk high schools have to elect its School Boards that will be responsible for the

running of the schools. The precondition for State subsidies is a well-established document of

objectives for the school and a distinct prepared plan for the evaluation of school activities.

The board of school should control the economic activity and also appoint the principal of the

school. The organizing body of the students should be the Student Union.

Adult education associations are to be organized in three levels: the local level,

the district level and the national level. The Board members are to be ranked as the top leaders

of the eleven adult education associations in the country.

At the state level the folk high schools and the adult education associations are

to be specially attached to Adult Education Council. The council responsibility is to share the

state subsidies to respective folk high schools and adult education associations and to conduct

evaluation studies among them. The state however will perform its own evaluation of adult

education in every five years.
42 The steering documents for the Municipal adult education, Intellectually handicapped, and Swedish language

for immigrants consist of the following: School law (SFS 1985:100 with later editions), regulations on the

National school of adult education (SFS 1991:1108 with later editions), ordinance concerning 1994 years

curriculum for the private schools (SFS 1994:2 with later editions), ordinance concerning special program

objectives for a) National secondary school (SFS 1994:8) b) National secondary school (SFS 1994:13 with later

editions) c) fundamental adult education (SFS 1994:23) d) some parts for the Intellectually handicapped (SFS

1994:27), ordinance for the municipal adult education (1992:403 with later editions), ordinance for National

school for adult (1992:610 with later editions) Ibid., p.114.

43 Ibid.
The change from centralization and regulation to decentralization and deregulation in the

sphere of education governance affected the whole education spectrum. It affected the total

spectrum of educational influences concerning the adult learner and the manner he receives

his education (from informal learning to formal learning, non-institution context to institution

context). Swedish adult education sector was one of the areas that was tremendously affected

in a positive way due to the change and implementation of this political strategy of steering.

The impetus that was received during this transition period generated good results in the

organization and running of the adult education sector regarding citizens and immigrants

education. The knowledge expansion project was embarked upon at a period when the

political climate was favorable to effect a unique enhancement of social and knowledge

We have found out that during the implementation of this project the state

counseled the municipalities to employ the services of many different organizers in order to

fulfill the state's result-oriented goal entrusted to them. The state or the national political

leadership having formulated the detailed goal for the activities entrusted the local leadership

to implement and reach the goal. These goal and result-steered activities were to be evaluated

by the local authorities, a necessary assignment, which would aid as well as enhance

knowledge in the society. It was also to augment and accelerate the development of pedagogy

in schools. This change of government activity or the relegation of steering from the central

government to the municipalities, it seems to me, presented a challenge, which also

encouraged the implementation of knowledge expansion project and ultimately led to its

success. The National Agency of Education's task to control in the form of follow-up,

evaluation, and supervision offered a new strategy and a fresh look to school organization

which ushered in a superb kind of division of labor in the overall governing of the Swedish

school system.
The knowledge expansion project not only aided the reduction of the high

employment level; it also contributed to growth of the ailing economy. As the government has

many different goals attached to the promulgation of this project it also fulfilled its promise

and granted the resources needed for its implementation causing a change of new thinking in

the way adult education was organized. Citizens as well as immigrants with valid stay in the

country gained access to formal learning in upper secondary and supplementary education as

a result of the implementation of the knowledge expansion program, allowing a considerable

number of qualified workers to become assets to modern industries. Those with less education

enhanced their possibilities in obtaining higher education to enable them get better jobs on the

labor market. These help them to convert their education capital to economic capital. While

those who were tired of their outdated professions, substituted them with new ones which the

industries were in great demand for. Social capital is often treated by some authors as a

positive feature of intermediate-level social relationships. In extremely normative way this

concept has been imported into policy making. In closely related fashion, there is a strong

assumption among policy makers that a stronger civil society and learning society are

somehow mutually reinforcing so that a number of bodies have contended in favor of a closer

relationship between development and adult education. Adult education functions well in the

manner of mobilizing and integrating excluded groups, which is one of the many strategies for

building social capital.
The expiring date of the expansion project has elapsed and as at yet we await a

general evaluation to be undertaken by the government and the municipalities as well.

However, even at present we already hear more success accounts of what the state through its

local governments has achieved by offering tremendous opportunities to the masses to equip

them to function better and compete fairly in the knowledge-based society. The change of

steering in a broad sense influenced a positive course of action which its good results will be

felt extensively well into the distant future.
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