Folkbildning. Folk means people and bildning means learning. Put them together and you get the word folkbildning, the Swedish form of non-formal adult education. In our study associations we define bildning 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.
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…
Folkbildning is a voluntary and decentralised form of learning which 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 ten 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.
Folkbildning is part of civil society.Most of the major popular movements in Sweden work in partnership with the study associations, which together have approximately 200 member 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 folkbildning since 1912. It is generally agreed that folkbildning should be run separately from the state, but be financed by public funds. The importance of folkbildning to Swedish society is recognised by all political parties.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our address is:
The Swedish Adult Education Association – Studieförbunden
112 42 Stockholm
Telephone: +46 8 402 01 50
Text in Swedish that has been translated from: