Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What the failure of Sweden’s schools can teach Canadians

Canadians have plenty of experience being compared, unfavourably, to Sweden. Back in 1973, we were famously told that the average 30-year-old Canadian man was in the same physical shape as a 60-year-old Swede. Sweden’s comprehensive welfare state has long been held as a marvel of income and gender fairness. And the country’s universal child-care system—which guarantees every child a spot in subsidized daycare from age one—is repeatedly presented to Canadians as evidence that our lack of a similar program ought to be considered a national embarrassment.

After decades of living in the snow-white shadow of our Nordic compatriot, however, cracks are starting to appear in the famous Swedish model of enforced equality, high taxes and cradle-to-grave social programs. In the crucial area of schooling, in particular, it looks as if it’s now Canada’s time to shine.

Over the past decade, the Swedish school system has performed abysmally when compared to its international peers. The problem is so acute, the government asked the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to investigate; it released its assessment this week. “Sweden’s student performance has declined in all key domains of literacy, numeracy and science, from above or around the OECD average to below the OECD average,” the organization says. Since 2000, no country experienced a steeper drop in math test scores for 15-year-olds than Sweden. Despite the fact that Sweden spends considerably more than the OECD average on schooling, its share of poorly performing students has steadily increased, while the percentage of top performers has fallen by half.  (more...)

Quebequers want to be Swedes?

Don't. Go. There.

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