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Swedens National Agency for Education sets goals for gender equality, it develops curriculum towards this end with the intent to overcome gender inequality at an early age. (Education, 2011) Thus working towards development of individuals who will be able to make rational carries and higher education choices, and not be influenced by their sexual identity. It is important taking into context ILO's observation on Sweden's labour market, which claims it to be the most gender segregated. (Andersson, 2012, December 28) Gender equality is an important part of Swedish education system, in the following paragraphs particular attention has been given to compulsory school system.
The compulsory school education envisages for providing compulsory nine years of school education to children aged between 7 and 16 years, although children have the right to begin their compulsory education from age 6 or in special cases at the age of 8. (school, 2011) They are all co-educational. Presently the compulsory school education is regulated by Education Act of 1985 and the subsequent amendments. (UNESCO)
The curriculum of compulsory school envisions for an equivalent education, based on individual's circumstances and needs. Towards this end pupil's background, earlier experiences, language and knowledge are given due consideration. Schools are encouraged to make deliberate attempt towards ensuring equal rights for all, irrespective of gender. For example the perception of gender differences are constructed through the ways in which male and female pupils are treated and assessed and expectations placed on them. Here in lays the primary responsibility with the schools to act against such moves which result in building of perception of gender differences. (Curriculum for the compulsory school) Thus the schools are expected to act against the traditional gender roles, and thus enable the pupil to develop their own abilities and interest which doesn't takes account of their sexual identity.
In the school curriculum gender studies is not included as a separate subject towards this end, but as a field of knowledge; gender perspective is infused in the various subjects. In subject specific context pupils are expected to develop understanding of gender equality. Teacher's role towards this end is also ably illustrated in goals and guidelines of the curriculum. (Andersson, 2012, December 28)
The compulsory school system comprise of the following:
Special school (What is the Special school?, 2011)
It is for those children unable to attend the compulsory school or the compulsory school for learning disabilities. Children with visual impairment or other functional impairment are eligible to attend; deaf, dumb or speech disorder etc. It consists of ten years of schooling.
Sami school (What is the Sami school?, 2011)
It is for the residents of north where there are Sami speaking population, consisting of a total of six years of schooling. After the completion of 6 years pupil are to attend compulsory school. Apart from Sami children non-Sami children can also in special circumstance attend Sami school. Help the student to make alive the Samic culture and tradition for gender equality through equal opportunities as claimed by government because the Sami are most indigenous people in Sweden with unequal rights, poverty and antagonistic lifestyle. The equality here is in the context of society via education among the students.
The compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities (What is the compulsory school for pupils with learning disabilities?, 2011)
It has been envisaged as alternative to the compulsory schools, for children with learning disabilities. For difference there are training schools, envisioned for students lacking knowledge in specific subjects. It intends to provide education which is tuned to the capabilities of each of the student. Training school don't have separate subjects but have five subject areas; aesthetic activities, communication, motor skills, everyday activities and perception of reality.
Each of the above case the academic year is divided in two semesters, autumn and spring. The children are required to start their schooling from the autumn semester of the year when they will be attaining 7 years of their age. It ends with the spring semester of the 9th year or 10th in case of special schools. (Compulsory school, 2011) It is enshrined in the Education Act that, equality in education should be maintain along and across the nation and types of school. In the national goals, due consideration is given to the varying needs of the pupil. However there are special responsibilities towards children who face difficulty in their education. Hence schools should respond to them. (Andersson, 2012, December 28)
Teachers and parents are primarily responsible for inculcating their pupil and children with values which are of egalitarian nature, where sex is not taken note of. Teacher in class is primarily responsible to deliver what is envisioned and enshrined in the syllabus, while at home it is the parents. It is important to take not of the immense power which resides with the teacher in a classroom setting. It risks the teacher working against the value or goals of the curriculum. He may for example not speak against socially created gender roles, but in a way normalise it. Another is related to teacher's perception in regard to treatment of their students. For example, a study by National Agency of Education pinpoints to the fact that the boys get 70 % of speech space in classroom while the teachers have been under the impression that they have been giving equal time. In the same study it was found that 90 % of the teachers considered themselves to be giving equal time to their students irrespective of their sex. (Andersson, 2012, December 28) The tools which are used by the teacher for the gender equality are like discussing openly with the student about basic value of Swedish society, idea, problems and the result of individual action, indulging students in active participation of group work and motivate them to do so and be a more active observant to see the activity of the students and to take active step to prevent any type of abusive treatment.
The latest curriculum takes attempt to address such a situation. It has been explicitly mentioned under 'goals and guidelines' that, "the teacher shall act for boys and girls to have an equal influence over and space in the education". Time assigned between both the sexes thus need to be carefully observed. The examples quoted by the teacher also needed to be given careful attention, as to what kind of gender they represented and in what way they were typifying the concerned gender. The teachers along with other staff at the school are expected to counteract against the impediments imposed by sex, social or cultural background. (Andersson, 2012, December 28)
Parents remain central to all the initiatives and remedies carried out in regard to bringing gender equality. Environment at home greatly influences the child perceptions. For example, gender segregated work environment; the mother or female members primarily indulging in household work. It stands true more in case of immigrants from those society which are largely gender segregated and are not used to kind of society they have been experiencing now. Immigrant parents who are not verse in the local language find it difficult to work out with the school staff and other parents. It hence acts hindrance to finding solution to the problem faced by children, as participation and cooperation is not guaranteed from the immigrant parent's side. The current scenario for the student in age of 15 career aspiration opportunities the engineering and computing sector are still attract by the girls but in less ration as the boys. Only 4.4% of girls are planning for the career in engineering, computing and architecture where as boys are 15.3% and if we talk about the field of nursing and service sector including midwives & nurses girls are 15.8 % and boys are 4.6 % so the situation is vice-versa. If we see the future goal for Planning to work in International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) boys are less ambitious at 34.1% while girls are 44.9%. (OECD, 2013)
Summary: The Swedish culture is mostly joined with the gender in any context specially when we talk about the education system. It reflects the importance of gender equality approach and the combined work of different institutions to make it move in a smooth path. The whole compulsory education curriculum show the aim for joining the education with the gender prospect and enhance the student capability and strength in different sectors without any gender role and abolish the ongoing tradition and perception of the society through education. Understanding is very important for the student and society but its comes from source of understanding which is school and equality is the portion of that system. The gender integration is a very slow process because it is deeply rooted in the society by there long societical perception but it is changing through different process. In my view gender equality making everyone to see people as individual not in the group and changing the stereotype view of the society. It is very natural to focus on girl students when we make a attempt on gender equality at school but focused should be made on both the student male and female because the society culture which assume female as secondary make student feel to be stereotype and norm based gender. In Swedish school's boys still feel the experience of narrow norms that are difficult to step outside of, where at the same time girls are in progress not fully sufficient. In making a perfect society both boys and girls should be equally treated without any discrimination.
Reflection: Free and equal access to education and lifelong learning are among the pillars of the Swedish welfare state. In the developmental course of the Swedish migration and integration policy over the years, the assumption and sometimes assessment of the (potential) integrational role of the school as a natural arena of social integration. (Dingu-Kyrklund, August 2009) the strength of compulsory school is thrice of the upper secondary school which is a alot but the facility is not as equal to the upper secondary school. The ratio between male and female teacher is 1:3 which shows the gender variation and the schools that have more immigrant children as compare to other school with poor Swedish skill face a lots of challenges without any extra facilities. Compulsory education plays a vital role as a bridge between pre-school and upper-secondary school.