Presentation inom temaområde “National Internet-based School Support Initiatives” under INET’99 Educational Networking Workshop, San José, June 1999

The Swedish School System

The Swedish school system consists of

  • approx. 1.2 million pupils
  • approx. 120,000 teachers
  • approx. 6000 schools

The Swedish school system is

  • goal oriented
  • decentralised

Goal orientation implies that

  • goals are set by government – school law, national curriculum, syllabi
  • how to achieve the goals is a question for the schools themselves
  • the municipalities organise, provide the resources and employ the teachers

Decentralisation implies that

  • responsibility for day-to-day work lies with the teachers and the school leaders
  • schools decide about teaching material (including software), work methods, Internet access etc.
  • municipalities may support with infrastructure, project money etc.
  • the government does not provide hardware, recommend software, direct the use of IT in school etc.

However, the government

  • disseminates information
  • may provide project support
  • encourages the use of Internet in school

National IT initiatives

National support for the schools IT development

  • IT in School – a three year project run by the Ministry of Education focusing on teacher training
  • The Foundation for Knowledge and Competence – a semi-government body that funds research and IT-projects
  • The IT-commission – an advisory body to the government
  • The National Agency for Education – a government body responsible for the K12-sector

The National Agency for Education

  • acts on specific commission from the ministry
  • acts on its own initiatives within the framework set up by the ministry
  • works within areas: active follow-up, evaluation, supervision and development

The Swedish Schoolnet

The Swedish Schoolnet

  • is a project managed by the National Agency for Education
  • spreads knowledge and information about Internet and education to teachers, school leaders, decision makers, pupils and parents
  • acts as a catalyst to create new content
  • is an “information broker” for organisations, companies, museums, government bodies etc.

Philosophy behind the project

  • show possibilities and give advice – not “commands”
  • teacher empowerment is a basis for school development
  • support local, active work of teachers and pupils
  • support learning by doing
  • provide forums, collaborative environments, services, tools etc. for this
  • “ultimate vision”: school as “the center of the village”

Example of services and projects

  • school adresses – support for finding other schools
  • dictionaries – support for international contacts
  • Classroom On-line – maga/webzine for inspiration and ideas
  • the Multimedia Bureau – support for publication
  • the Link Larder – a collection of high quality but not necessarily “safe” links,


Summary of the Swedish experiences

  • “content pull” (rather than “technology push”) gives a solid IT development in K12-schools
  • a focus on possibilities and advantages gives a widespread acceptance among teachers
  • many different local initiatives combine into major changes
  • new technology must be accompanied by changes in organisation and administration

About the author

Johan Groth has a Master of Science in Engineering Physics and a Ph.D. in Mechanics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He has, since 1994, been working with how Internet can be used as a development tool within the educational sector as a senior adviser at the Ministry for Education, the Swedish Parliament and, presently, the National Agency for Education. He has been involved in building the Swedish and European Schoolnets. Groth is a board member of The Swedish Chapter of Internet Society and of KTH Network Operation Centre. He has recently published the book “Internet comes to school”, a description of the first years of Internet use in Swedish schools.


  1. General information about the Swedish school system, The National Agency for Education,
  2. The 1994 Curriculum for the Non-compulsory School System,
  3. Schools and Computers 1997 – a quantitative picture, The National Agency for Education,
  4. Information technology in the schools, The National Agency for Education,
  5. IT in School,
  6. The Foundation for Knowledge and Competence,
  7. The IT Commission,
  8. The National Agency for Education,
  9. The Swedish Schoolnet,
  10. The Swedish Schoolnet, Dictionaries,
  11. The Swedish Schoolnet, The Mulitmedia Bureau,
  12. The Swedish Schoolnet, School Addresses,
  13. The Swedish Schoolnet, The Link Larder,
  14. IT in Education – The Role of Government, Johan Groth, 1998,
  15. Physical or virtual networks? – Connecting Swedish schools to Internet, Johan Groth, 1998,