The think tank Tiden (“The Time”), which is affiliated with the ruling Social Democrats party, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) the Worker's Educational Association (ABF), has sparked a storm with its proposal to remove the F grade (unsatisfactory) in public schools.
Last spring, 17,400 or 15.6 percent of all Swedish students left the ninth grade with grades that were too low for them to be admitted to high school. According to Tiden, the children of citizens with a low level of educational attainment as well as new arrivals are over-represented among those who fail. Over 70 percent of immigrant kids don't make it to secondary school, and boys fail more often than girls.
Instead, Tiden proposes introducing “dashes” for all subjects where a positive assessment of a student is not possible.
In order to boost the proportion of pupils eligible to continue their education, Tiden also suggested abolishing mathematics as a “basic subject”. This would mean that an acceptable grade in mathematics wouldn't be required to be admitted to secondary school. The current requirements in the subject of mathematics were called “an insurmountable obstacle”.
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According to Tiden's director Daniel Färm, the think tank focuses on existing inequality without reducing the requirement for knowledge. According to Färm, there is a “class perspective” in today's school, as the children of educated parents tend to outperform the others.
“For us, a labour think tank, it is especially important to reduce the differences that are due to parents' level of education,” Färm told the tabloid daily Aftonbladet. According to him, the school shouldn't “sift out” students with poorer prospects, but must strive in order to provide everyone with good conditions for learning.
The report received a lot of attention on social media, where the proposal was widely mocked.
“How socialists solve a problem: remove the measurement tools used to measure the problem and pretend that the problem disappears,” Hampus Andersson of the Citizen's Coalition party tweeted.
“Then you send them to high school to solve the problem of lack of knowledge. In 4-5 years, they are admitted to the university with non-existent knowledge. A typically socialist method, to hold off problems all the time,” another user chimed in.
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Some ventured that this was a slippery slope, and that in the future calls to abolish E will be heard as well.
“Why not completely abolish school and just give everyone A plus? Significantly cheaper, at least in the short term,” another user sneered.
“Lower the bar more and more and wonder why there is no qualified workforce,” yet another jeered.
“It is a question of time before the socialists solve the bombing crisis by legalising bombs,” was another sarcastic take.
Swedish public grade schools encompass kindergarten through the ninth grade, students are currently graded starting in the sixth grade. The grades range from A (exemplary) to F (fail). At the university level, only three grades exist: VG (passed with distinction), G (passed), and U (fail).
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