Regulation and Funding of Independent Schools: Lessons from Sweden

For those attempting to implement school choice programs, it is important to look at other countries that have previously implemented these programs in order to learn from them. Sweden, having increased the amount of students attending independent schools from 2 percent to 14.1 percent over the past 20 years, provides many lessons, both in terms of the policies to implement and policies to avoid:

Firstly, it is important to ensure a depoliticized approval process in which the branches or levels of government that inspect and approve school applications are different from those that fund them. Secondly, it is important to approach parity in funding as much as possible and to maintain neutral ownership requirements. This includes permitting for-profit education providers. Finally, it is also important to avoid heavily detailed input and curriculum regulation, but at the same time ensure the availability of good output accountability and information metrics.

In all, Sweden offers lessons for other jurisdictions on the funding and regulation of independent schools that can produce a functioning education market with strong incentives among schools, independent and public, to enhance competition and raise education quality for all.

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