Since the 1960s Sweden has ranked high among western countries in terms of its commitment to adult education. The public adult education system and student welfare reforms of the mid-1970s carried on from the grassroots tradition of liberal adult study and education initiatives.
The school system for adults includes municipal adult education (corresponding to basic and upper secondary school), education for adults with learning disabilities and Swedish for immigrants.
Municipal adult education (Komvux)
Municipal adult education at basic level is to help adults gain the knowledge and skills they need to take part in society and working life. It is also meant to prepare adults for further study. Municipal adult education at upper secondary level, in turn, is to equip adults with knowledge and skills corresponding to the levels set for pupils at upper secondary school.
Education for adults with learning disabilities (Särvux)
Education for adults with learning disabilities aims to equip these adults with knowledge and skills corresponding to those that pupils in compulsory and upper secondary education schools for persons with learning disabilities can acquire.
Swedish for immigrants (SFI)
Education in Swedish for immigrants is to equip adult immigrants with a basic knowledge of the Swedish language. A further purpose of Sfi is to teach reading and writing to immigrants who lack basic knowledge of these skills.
Higher vocational education
Vocational higher education programmes may be organised by state higher education institutions, municipalities, county councils and private natural or legal persons. Education programmes are to be characterised by a strong link to workplaces and a grounding in theory.
In addition, programmes are to be developed and run in cooperation with working life and education providers. After applying to the National Agency for Higher Vocational Education, a provider is to be eligible for central government grants or special funds for the programme.
Supplementary education is a supplement to the education system. It helps adults develop knowledge and skills in specific occupational fields and aims to preserve traditional trade skills, among other things.
Liberal adult education
Liberal adult education, which has a long tradition in Swedish society, is characterised by great freedom in setting its own objectives, while the Government defines the purposes of the government grants. These include enhancing people's ability to influence their own lives and fostering a commitment to the development of society. Moreover, the funding aims to contribute to evening out education gaps, raising the standard of education and broadening interest in participating in cultural life.
Liberal adult education includes folk high schools, study associations and student organisations in folk high schools. The Swedish National Council of Adult Education is responsible for distributing government grants to study associations and folk high schools.