“Folkbildning” is the name of the Swedish liberal, non-formal and voluntary educational sector, consisting of folk high schools and study associations – as well as the name for the pedagogy and methods used within it. The process to formulate an overall policy program for “the folkbildning of the future”, its role and objectives, took place in 2003-2004 and 2012-2013 respectively. The objective was to have a comprehensive process, involving all folk high schools and study associations – monitored by the national folkbildning organisations.
We wrote a document called “Folkbildningens Framsyn”, with a strong input on national policy in the field of folkbildning. The Government bill in 2006 was to a large extent based on this document. The Parliament decided to raise the state funding for folkbildning that year – in political consensus.
Key elements of success:
The policy was created in a broad dialogue with people active in folk high schools and study associations. The policy document referred to existing challenges in the Swedish society – and how folkbildning could address them. An important aspect is that the folkbildning organisations managed to deliver a proactive document, showing present activities and future ambitions and identifying key areas of activities referring to state objectives, with public support (strengthening and developing democracy, empowerment of citizens, levelling educational divides, increasing cultural awareness and participation).
The campaign was covered by some national media outlets, as well as by local media – covering activities in folk high schools and study associations. However, the media was not our primary target: It is very difficult to get extensive coverage in national media on these topics, partly because of consensus and lack of fundamental conflicts at the political level, concerning folkbildning.