DEBATE, the article was published in UNT 10 / 5-2021. Read the article on UNT.se. here
In the January agreement, the Social Democrats, the Center Party, the Liberals and the Green Party agreed that there would be a reform of teacher education with the aim of strengthening quality. The government has now presented a memorandum that contains a number of proposals with the aim of raising quality, including higher requirements for the number of teaching hours.
Teacher education is Sweden's largest vocational education with just over 20 applicants and almost 000 degrees per year. A good teacher education requires that students can translate theory into practice, which requires a lot of time between teachers and students. It is therefore good that the government has said that it intends to follow up the number of teaching hours in teacher education, but the problem is only that the inquiry's proposal will not achieve higher quality as it overlooks the basic problem.
Funding for higher education suffers from system failures. The grants are not based on the actual costs of educating students, and over time the grant increases have not matched the cost increases. Since the current funding system for higher education was introduced in the early 90s, the universities' grants have not kept pace with the cost increase. The teacher educations belong to the educational areas where the problems become clearest and the teacher educations have been underfunded for many years.
The compensation for the education area "Teaching" has slipped behind more than any other education area. During the period 1999–2019, the grant increased by 34 percent per student. According to Statistics Sweden's implicit index for government consumption, costs increased by as much as 68 per cent during the same period. Inflation is thus twice as high as the increase in appropriations. It goes without saying that the business is negatively affected when the appropriations are eaten up by increased premises costs and salaries. Today's remuneration must increase significantly for teacher education to have the same conditions as in the late 1990s.
The teacher education programs certainly also contain subject courses that are not categorized as teaching, but many of these are reimbursed according to the lowest price tag (HTJS), which includes studies in the humanities and social sciences. This has not been taken into account in the calculations of the education grants.
Even when the new financing system was introduced in the early 90s, the compensation amounts were based on old calculations. Changes in technology, teaching methods or those that are part of the student group itself have not had an impact on funding. And so it has had to continue, every year the compensation amounts are determined based on last year without further consideration. It is the inadequate funding of certain areas of education that leads to teacher education being given less teacher-led time and poorer conditions.
In such a situation, raising requirements for teaching time is not enough. It is to make demands without giving universities and colleges the conditions to actually be able to implement them, which leads to undesirable consequences.
It is time to tackle the basic problem, the financing. Higher quality is dependent on the teacher students being given more teaching hours and this in turn requires a higher remuneration. Politicians must stop closing their eyes to the obvious - that quality costs. We demand that responsible politicians take their responsibility and list the compensation, that is the only way we can increase the quality of teacher education.
Simon Edström, Chairman of SFS
Rebecca Linderholm, SFS representative in SUHF's expert group in teacher education issues
Johanna Jaara Åstrand, Chairman of the Swedish Teachers' Association
Maria Guthke, Chairman of the Student Teachers' Association