An introduction to the Folk High School

The Swedish word "folkbildning" means liberal adult education that's non-formal and voluntary. The philosophy of folkbildning that is practiced at the Folk High Schools, presumes that all citizens are free and independent individuals, with the right to participate in all aspects of a democratic society.

The activities should provide a comprehensive approach, stimulate curiosity and critical thinking; as well as be a part of the crucial process of lifelong learning. Folkbildning creates the conditions necessary for people to freely pursue knowledge and contributes towards giving them the opportunity to change their lives.

Folkbildning in Sweden is organised through Study Associations (studieförbund) and Folk High Schools (folkhögskolor).

This website gives information about the Folk High Schools. If you want more information about folkbildning, visit the website of The Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet).

History of folkbildning

The history of folkbildning stretches back to the turn of the last century. Political and social revolutions in Europe made people realise that they could truly influence their own future. But if the people were going to have increased power, they would also have to obtain knowledge and education.

There were elementary schools of course, but there was also much dissatisfaction regarding the educational activities they offered ordinary people. The growing popular movements no longer accepted that the upper classes should make all decisions concerning cultural life or what was taught in schools.

The first folk high schools in Sweden were established in 1868 and today there are over 150 schools in the country. Despite being separate, Folk High Schools are now a popular, important and established part of the Swedish education system. More than two thirds of the schools are run by various popular movements, organisations and associations (NGO´s), whilst the remaining are run by county councils or regions.