Sweden’s School Voucher Program

Publication, Education, Kristian Tiger

Executive Summary

  • More than a decade ago, Sweden reversed its long history of centralized school administration and adopted a school voucher program.
  • Allowing parents a choice of schools rapidly expanded the number of independent schools.
  • Schools that receive vouchers must except students regardless of ability or background, and must not charge tuition beyond the value of the voucher.
  • Independent schools may not consider academic ability as a standard of admission.
  • Non-state schools now house more than ten percent of school-age children; most are located in large cities, and few have opened in rural areas, although that is changing.
  • Independent schools typically specialize in certain styles of pedagogy; they tend to be smaller in size than municipal schools.
  • The growth of private schools has not harmed municipal schools; in fact, they have improved their performance in response to competition for students.
  • Independent schools have increased the level of socio-economic diversity, as students from poor neighbourhoods can now attend schools located in more affluent areas.
  • The school voucher system has garnered wide public and political acceptance.