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The politics of pre-school: Intentions and decisions underlying the emergence and growth of the Swedish pre-school

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Korpi, Barbara
government document
Publication Date: 
25 Oct 2007


This paper provides a brief overview of the political factors and milestones in the development of Swedish early childhood education and care. The booklet is based on commissions, bills and debates in the Riksdag over the period 1970 to 2006. The aim of this booklet is to provide a brief overview of the political factors and decisions underlying the emergence and growth of Swedish child care. Focus is put on the emergence of the pre-school i.e. the activity combining care and pedagogy for children aged 1-6 years.

Since 1970 when the major expansion was initiated, the number of places in pre-school and school-age child care has increased more than tenfold from 70,000 to over 750,000. How this happened, and what made it possible is a question that is being put not least in the rest of Europe, where public child care is now high on the political agenda in a number of countries.

One of the foundation stones in the politics of the Swedish pre-school is that it must be possible to combine work and family life. It is also important to be able to provide child care which is flexible and enables parents to choose the form which is most suitable for them and their children. Another factor that makes Swedish pre-schooling so attractive for families with children is that Sweden has built a pre-school system of solid quality which parents can safely entrust their children to.

The Ministry of Education and Research commissioned the work and Barbara Martin Korpi, former Senior Adviser to the Ministry, is the author. This shorter version of the booklet in English is the third edition of the publication.