Swedish students learn less between grades four and eight than students in other countries, which is more proof for a seemingly set trend: Swedish schools aren’t keeping up.
“This is very serious as the students don’t just learn less, they also lose the lust for learning during these years and they find the subjects in school boring,” says school reporter Lenita Jällhage. She says it’s difficult to say whether the problem lies within the school, the students or the politicians.

“We have observed that Swedish students spend more time alone with their math books, for instance, compared to students in other countries. In Swedish schools, students read more fiction than factual study books, and that may mean the students have problems understanding those types of texts. This is where we (Sweden) fall behind the most.” When asked whether parents should do more to help their children with schoolwork, Jällhage says: “I’m a parent myself and know how difficult it is to get the so-called ‘puzzle of life’ together. But if I were to give one piece of advice, it’d be for parents to read to their children daily from a very early age. That’d help children to better understand contexts and words they’d never come in contact with in daily life. It needn’t be long texts, but it’s important the children feel they are allowed to stop to ask questions about the text.” Jällhage also says that in countries like Singapore and South Korea, where students are doing very well, teachers work together in a different way. They sit in on each other’s lessons to observe what works and what doesn’t. The problems the majority of the students are facing are penetrated and together the teachers try to come up with strategies to improve the lessons to make it more concrete and interesting for all students.