This report covers the teacher section of a governmental directive to the National Agency for Higher Education and the National Board for Health and Welfare to review the systems for assessing eligibility of teachers as well as health-welfare personnel with education from a “third country".
BackgroundSince 2000 the National Agency for Higher Education has been the competent state authority appointed for the teaching profession. Among other things, it is the remit of this authority to assess foreign teacher education together with teacher experience if any and in consequence thereof grant a certificate of competency to those applicants that meet the requirements of the agency´s statutes. Eligibility certification authorizes employment without time limitation in Swedish schools. Assessment of the teacher´s competency is a matter for the employer.
A teacher with a foreign education can apply for eligibility certification evaluation or a ruling on elegibility evaluation. That which differentiates evaluation of elegibility to study from evaluation of foreign teacher education is that the relevant professional occupation can also be taken into consideration, likewise knowledge of Swedish.
Normally it takes an average of just over one month to assess and issue an elegibility certificate. Most assessed applications successfully conclude with an elegibility certificate. The National Agency for Higher Education granted its thousandth elegibility certificate during the beginning of 2004. Approximately 90 percent of the successful applicants had an education from a country outside the EU/ESS region.
Those foreign students that do not meet the requirements for elegibility are referred to supplementary studies or to an introduction period in a Swedish school. These teachers may also seek from the National Agency for Higher Education a ruling that harmonizes very closely with a comparable qualification. Not only can the ruling make it easier for the foreign teacher to get a substitute teacher position in a Swedish school, it also serves as a reference source when an institute of higher education wishes to make a decision regarding admissions and credits in connection with supplementary studies. After having supplemented that which was lacking for elegibility, the applicant can re-apply to the National Agency for Higher Education for a new assessment.
The National Agency for Higher Education´s assessment of eligibility to study functions wellThe opinion is that the National Agency for Higher Education´s assessment of eligibility to study functions satisfactorily. No changes in the statutes governing the work of the agency have been proposed.
As its remit the agency was commissioned to assess elegibility of foreign teachers during a relatively brief period. A more detailed examination of this remit and its effectiveness and significance with a view to facilitating the admission of foreign teachers in a Swedish school was never, therefore, regarded as topically relevant. In the long term, however, this remit should be evaluated externally to see if it could be done better or more efficiently.
Problems related to elegibility assessment of foreign teachersThe assessment remit is encumbered with problems that sometimes prevent foreign teachers from rapidly acquiring specific theoretical and practical elements necessary for elegibility. The National Agency for Higher Education lacks regular structures for introduction or supplementary studies that could be of help to applicants. Often the foreign teacher encounters practical difficulties in getting an introduction period in a Swedish school or is able to refer to previous studies and professional competency as grounds for admission to customised supplementary courses that lead to a teaching qualification.
Conclusions and proposalsTo start off with, it is important that foreign teachers and other professional groups should be provided at an early stage with · clear cut information about the path to and conditions for elegibility. · guidance and help with individual study planning on the basis of a preliminary assessment from the pertinent authority about previous studies and professional experience. · the possibility of supplementing in line with previous education and professional experience irrespective of the labour market situation (short-handed occupations situation) in the various counties.
The Migration Department should map out the educational and occupational background of all new arrivals and how best they can use their skills in Sweden. A coordinating system should be created that involves an early survey coordinated with well-developed guidance and assessment of all foreign teachers and all health-care personnel who so wish.
There should be normalisation at all levels. By normalisation is meant a process vis-à-vis a status, characteristic of which is that the same body of rules applies to everyone. As example can be mentioned that those foreign teachers who undertake supplementary studies should be able to do this as far as possible within the framework of regular education that first and foremost leads to a teaching qualification.
Principally the financial funds allocated for supplementary courses should not be allocated as labour-market political measures addressed to the National Labour Market Board (NLMB). Parts of the funds should be budgeted directly to selected institutes of higher education for regular supplementary courses for foreign teachers and foreign health-care personnel. Compensation to institutes of higher education should be earmarked to be of advantage to the groups in question. In the long term, however, the financing should basically be able to follow the same method applied to the allocation of resources for basic education.
Supplementary studies should be interwoven with teacher practice and studies in Swedish in a higher educational environment and should also be adapted to the needs, circumstances and experience of the various individuals so that a teaching qualification can be attained in the shortest possible time. Required here are individual guidance, development and implementation of validation, flexible admission and teaching forms and, where necessary, parallel preparatory education and adaptation of studies for applicants with teaching experience who only have upper secondary or post-secondary foreign teacher education.
A regular procedure of introducing foreign teachers to the Swedish school should be established. Institutes of higher education and communes must take joint responsibility for arranging introductory places in the school. Accordingly it should be possible to refer foreign teachers to customised supplementary studies interwoven with teaching practise, thereby offering them fine prospects within relevant areas and at the right level. It should be the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the teaching post offers an opportunity to acquire specific familiarity with the professional language involved, both during actual training if any and as an employee.
Simple, flexible forms for financing the introduction period and supplementary education must be created. This applies not only to support and compensation for the individual applicant, but also to the employer and to covering the costs for the course organiser. It is the view of the National Agency for Higher Education and the National Board for Health and Welfare that the remit does not include financial support for a specific individual in connection with supplementary studies and introduction. Nevertheless, it is understood that the successful path to elegibility or legitimation presumes that the finances of the individual are in good order. If the principal organisers have to assume responsibility for the activity-tied introduction, this must be clearly stated and they must be given this commission. This review does not have the overall knowledge and competency required to visualize any financial consequences deriving thereof.
Finally it is the view of the National Agency for Higher Education and the National Board for Health and Welfare that necessary allocation of resources and otherwise necessary agreements and decisions must be the remit of the government.