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Screens are still very present in Swedish schools

Screens are still very present in Swedish schools

While the presence of screens in Quebec schools is increasingly being questioned, Sweden is often cited as an example of a country where the good old book is getting its revenge on tablets in the classroom. However, he pointed out that the small revolution that was announced has not yet become a reality, and some even wonder if it will actually happen in the end. Newspaper.

May 2023. Sweden's new education minister, Lotta Edholm, announces that she wants to reduce the use of screens in schools and bring back textbooks and handwriting.

Millions will be invested in purchasing books in Swedish schools, where the screens have been around for fifteen years, sometimes from early childhood classrooms in the equivalent of our daycare centers that have been integrated into the Swedish school network.

“Students need more textbooks. The minister declared that paper books were important for students’ learning, believing that the school network had moved “too quickly” with the introduction of digital technology in school.

Reading scores decline

In Sweden, recent studies suggest problems with memorization, concentration, and learning to read associated with the use of tablets in the classroom.

The proportion of 10-year-old Swedish students who have difficulty reading has risen from 12% to 19% in five years, prompting the centre-right government to push ahead with the shift.

However, the pandemic and the recent increase in immigration to this country could also explain this decline, according to experts.

Some tangible changes since the beginning of the school year

However, since the beginning of the school year, there has been little change in Swedish schools. During the past few days, Newspaper I contacted about twenty schools in Stockholm, but was unable to find one that had made significant changes this year.

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“This shift is very recent, and no decision or strategy has been made yet on this topic in our schools,” says Nadia Beer, communications officer in charge of primary schools in Malmö, Sweden's third-largest city.

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“In recent years, we have devoted a lot of effort to introducing digital technology into classrooms, so this is a big shift that has been announced, but has not yet begun,” she adds.

There are no national guidelines yet

It must be said that no official guidance was adopted after this announcement.

Steps are currently being taken to amend the Early Childhood Learning Programme, for children aged 5 years and under, in order to remove the mandatory use of digital devices in daycare services.

A consultation led by the National Education Agency, which oversees the school network, is currently underway until the beginning of June.

The minister also wants to make changes to the primary school programme, but nothing concrete is on the table yet.

Decentralized schools network

The Swedish school network is also highly decentralized, so it will be difficult to initiate changes despite new national guidelines, adds a Quebec resident who has taught at a high school in Sweden for years, but declined to reveal his identity.

“Schools here have a lot of freedom, they pretty much do what they want. The changes involve a lot of resistance, and many students have their own computers or tablets in class, so it will be very difficult to go back,” he says.

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The principal of a primary school near Stockholm shares his opinion. “It is a political declaration above all. “I don't think it will bring many tangible changes, digital devices are already in schools,” says Thomas Osteras.

“But it is possible to take a more balanced approach,” he adds. At home, as in other schools, we never stopped using books and textbooks, even if we had tablets.

The big return of paper and pencil in Swedish schools: what is the truth?

  • The Swedish government announced last year that it wanted to reduce the use of screens in classrooms in favor of paper, pencils and textbooks.
  • Millions are available to enable teachers to purchase more books and textbooks in schools starting this year.
  • A preliminary consultation is now underway to remove the obligation to use digital devices in nurseries from the early childhood programme.
  • No changes have been made to the national guidelines for digital education at primary and secondary levels.
  • Because the Swedish school network is highly decentralized, teachers and school administrators believe it will be difficult to enforce changes, even with potential new directives.

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