The Folk high school as an actor for personal and community change

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“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world.” -James Baldwin

 

In this blog post, I will write about my experience with Swedish folkbildning, an informal popular adult education system, and why it is essential for the intellectual growth of adult citizens. I intend to follow this blog post along with others to explore the history, concepts, and issues of the system to interested visitors of my blog.

There are over 150 public secondary schools in Sweden today. These Schools and ten other study associations are funded mainly by state, county councils, and municipal grants. Countless adults participate in short and long-term courses, study circles, and cultural events hosted by these organizations every year. Since adults enrolled in long-term folk high school courses can get financial aid and loans while studying, the system is prevalent among low-income individuals with limited education.

The Swedish Parliament has identified the general objectives of these activities as follows:

• Consolidation and development of democracy

• Empowering people to influence their own lives and participate in social development,

• Eliminating educational deficiencies and raising educational standards and cultural awareness in society.

• Increasing interest and participation in cultural life.

These goals allow educational associations and folk high schools to form and organize such activities freely.

In my 25 years of work as a Folk High School teacher, I have gained experience in teaching adult migrants from non-European countries and witnessed cases of solid growth and transformation that have helped individuals find new ways of life, jobs, and thinking.

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For this reason, I believe that the Folk high schools play an essential role in social cohesion and regional development, especially in the dense migrant-populated Swedish metropolitan suburb. The folk high schools empower adults to combat discrimination, racism, segregation, and organized crime in these areas and promote democracy, gender equality, respect for human rights, world peace, and justice.

Adaptation to the folk high school system in developing countries can play a decisive role in the sustainable development of today’s world. Mainly because it is related to the personal development of these countries’ citizens. The Swedish model is an excellent example of a national lifelong learning program that is vital in this era of misinformation and fake news and is an essential tool for bridging the knowledge gap between citizens of different social and economic


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