Swedish non-formal adult education

The Swedish study associations stand for joint learning in all of Sweden, always on each indivuals own terms and always together with peers. We define non-formal adult education as the opportunity to learn for its own sake. What matters is the desire to learn rather than demands set by the outside world. Learning is a lifelong process on your own responsibility and on your own initiative. And it encompasses so much more than learning in the formal education system, which only covers certain periods of our lives.

A great thirst for knowledge
Every year, millions of Swedes meet in various forums to share knowledge, exchange views and discuss opinions. The forum could be a course or a study circle, and the subject could be painting or Italian, botany or how to run a democratic organisation. But the result is always the same. When people whose paths would not normally cross meet in this way, new ideas and new insights inevitably come to light. A kind of cross-fertilisation occurs, and this contributes not only to the development of those present, but also to the development of society as a whole. This mix is a crucial element of a successful democracy – and is therefore crucial for Sweden.

We, the study associations, have devotedly organized and developed adult education for more than 100 years. We will happily continue doing so for another 100 years…

A voluntary and decentralised form of learning
Non-formal adult education strengthens and enriches people and thereby the whole of society. Ever since the first study circle was held in 1901, study circles have been a meeting place for increasing knowledge and involvement.

Sweden’s nine study associations organise cultural programmes and lectures. However, it is the study circle which is the cornerstone of folkbildning. In the circle the participants benefit from their own experiences and knowledge and that of others. The group share their learning, building on their own interest and desire to learn. This creates a commitment and a motivation which exceeds that of many other forms of education.

Swedish non-formal adult education is part of civil society. Most of the major popular movements in Sweden work in partnership with the study associations, which together have approximately 370 member organisations. Locally, the study associations collaborate with aproximately 15 000 organisations. This gives the study associations access to a unique network, enabling them to engage with people who few other organisations in society are able to reach.

The state has provided financial support to non-formal adult education since 1912. It has for long time been generally agreed that non-formal adult education should be run separately from the state, but be financed by public funds.

The Swedish Adult Education Association
The Swedish Adult Education Association is the interest organization of the study associations and its task is to strengthen the position of the study associations in our society through communication, cooperation, and analysis of the surrounding world.

Contact us by e-mail at: info@studieforbunden.se

Our address is:
The Swedish Adult Education Association – Studieförbunden
Dalagatan 7
112 42 Stockholm

Telephone: +46 8 402 01 50