09 SES 04 B, Developments in Education Systems – Trend Perspectives
The educational reforms implemented in Sweden since the end of the 1980s can be characterized in terms of decentralization, deregulation, marketization, and choice (e.g., Lundahl, et al., 2013). These educational reforms have dramatically changed the landscape of Swedish school system (Björklund, et al., 2004).
The series of reforms reorientate the educational economic structures, and introduce a quasi-market mechanism into the educational system. On the one hand, municipalities have full responsibility for organizing compulsory education, which is financed by local tax revenue and a central governmental grant. This leads to great disparity in the level of educational resources across municipalities. On the other hand, the independent school reform encourages establishment of independent schools with private providers. Together with the launch of a voucher system with school choice, they facilitate the market-like Swedish education system.
The opportunities offered through the allowance of school choice in combination with the growing amount of new schools and new educational providers also lead to a changing school market structure in the upper secondary education in Sweden. Increasing mobility streams of students commuting over municipal borders has been observed over time, so has the travel distance to school for Swedish students since 2000 (Andersson et al., 2012).
The main intentions of these reforms were to increase education quality, equity and efficiency through choice and competition (Ball, 1998; Erixon Arreman & Holm 2011). However, the choice – competition model of a market-like education system in Sweden has caused an increasing discrepancy in the social ethnic composition as well as the achievement gap between Swedish schools (Gustafsson & Yang Hansen, 2009; Böhlmark, Holmlund, & Lindahl, 2015).
It should also be noticed however that private providers seem to have an inclination to establish schools in high-income areas (Viberg & Wolkmar, 2014). Lack of information regarding school options (Lidström et al, 2014) and lack of alternative schools and a significant increase in school closures in the rural areas (Kähkönen, 2007; Åberg-Bengtsson, 2009) makes the patterns of school markets vary greatly in different municipalities in Sweden. The uneven development of quasi-school market imposes further threats to educational equity.
Applying the analytical model for studying labor market developed by Statistic Sweden, Fjellman, Yang Hansen & Beach (2014) identified spatial patterns of the Swedish school markets between 1998 and 2008. They observed that the number of the school markets has decreased and become concentrated. Some school markets, especially in urban areas, increased in geographical size and student capture, while others decreased. They also highlighted increasing streams of student commute mainly towards metropolitans and urban municipalities and the tendencies expanded over time.
Give the uneven and changing quasi-market structure in Sweden, it is an important question to ask who commutes into metropolitan markets and if the characteristics of this group of commuters changed between 1997 and 2008? The aim of the study is therefore to investigate the changes in social ethnic composition of students who choose to commute to another municipality to obtain their upper secondary education.
Investigating consequences of reform-related marketization will have important contributions to debate on effectiveness, choice and competition in educational sectors in a European and a global context, where many countries have implemented similar reforms to various extents.
Andersson, E., Malmberg, B., Östh, J. (2012) Travel-to-school distances in Sweden 2000- 2006: changing school geography with equality implications. Journal of Transport Geography, 23, 35-43. Arreman Erixon, I., Holm, A-S. (2011) Privatization of public education? The emergence of independent upper secondary schools in Sweden. Journal of Education Policy, 26(2), 225-243. Ball, S. (1998). Big policies/small world: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy. Comparative Education 34(2), 119–30. Björklund, A., Edin, P.-A., Fredriksson, P., and Krueger, A. (2004). Education, equality and efficiency - An analysis of Swedish school reforms during the 1990s: IFAU - Institute for Labor Market Policy Evaluation. Böhlmark, A., Holmlund, H., & Lindahl, M. (2015). School Choice and Segregation: Evidence from Sweden. IFAU working paper, 2015:8. Fjellman, A. M., Yang Hansen, K., & Beach, D. (2014). Stuck with what’s on offer – consequences of market choice between 1997 and 2008 in Sweden. Paper presented at the ECER conference 2014 in Porto, Portugal, Sep 2-5. Gustafsson, J.-E., & Yang Hansen, K. (2009). Resultatförändringar i svensk grundskola [Changes in Outcomes in Swedish Compulsory Schools; in Swedish]. In L. M. Olsson (Ed.), Vad påverkar resultaten i grundskolan? (pp. 40-84). Stockholm: Skolverket. Kähkonen, L. (2007) ‘Limitations to Creating and Options for Maintaining Local Quasi-markets’. Kommunal ekonomi och politik , 11(2), 7–28. Lundahl, L., Erixon Arreman, I., Holm, A-S., & Lundström, U. (2013). Educational marketization the Swedish way. Education Inquiry, 4(3), DOI: 10.3402/edui.v4i3.22620 Lidström, L., Holm, A., Lundström, U. (2014) Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk? Young People’s Upper Secondary School Choices in Swedish Quasi-markets. Young, 22, 1-20. Volckmar, N., & Wiborg, S. (2014). A Social Democratic Response to Market-Led Education Policies: Concession or Rejection?. In The Nordic Education Model (pp. 117-131). Springer Netherlands. Åberg-Bengtsson, L. (2009). The smaller the better? A review of research on small rural schools in Sweden. International Journal of Educational Research, 48(2), 100-108.
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