Häromdagen inledningstalade jag vid Stockholm Summit 2012 som pågår i dagarna tre. Stockholm Summit hölls första gången 2008 och bjuder in skolledare från hela världen för att diskutera de utmaningar som skolan står inför. Igår lyssnade jag på en mycket givande föreläsning av professor Michael Fullan, och häromdagen föreläste den svenska hjärnforskaren professor Martin Ingvar. Stockholm Summit har varit en fantastisk upplevelse de två tidigare gångerna och jag ser fram emot spännande seminarier och givande möten  med skolledare även denna gång.

Här är mitt inledningsanförande från gårdagen:

The Stockholm Summit 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Welcome to the Stockholm Summit! It is a great honour to once again welcome you here to this exciting conference.

Looking back at my welcome remarks from the first conference in 2008 it became quite clear that the issues discussed then are still current today. We are all well aware of the challenges the globalization of the world puts on our school systems. With the economic recession even more challenges have arisen. Facing an insecure economy and budget cuts increased pressure has been put on school leaders, teachers – and politicians – alike.

Looking back at the four years that have passed since our first conference I realize that the difficulties are very much the same, but the Swedish school system has undergone tremendous change since then. We have a new curriculum for the preschool and the compulsory school, and the upper secondary school has undergone essential changes. A new grade system will be implemented starting next year, and the teacher education has been reformed, just to mention a few of the most important reforms.

The focus on school results and globalization has brought education to the forefront of public debate.  Discussions within the education community, such as the one we will have for the next few days bring the issue forward.

There is a wide range of ideas as to how to improve school results – a lot of which are being implemented as we speak. This is an exciting time to be a teacher, headmaster or politician. And hopefully also – an exciting time to be a student!

Looking back at my remarks in 2008 I realize that one of the questions that are on top of the agenda for me daily was not mentioned. As the vice mayor of Stockholm I am constantly aware of the city’s great need for well-educated professionals. As I am sure is a concern also in your cities and countries.

This need is especially high in the field of natural science. However the desire among students to study the natural sciences is low. How do you motivate young people to not only work hard in school, but also choose to focus on natural sciences – and then continue on to a university degree in that field? This is one of the greatest challenges we are facing and I am looking forward to hearing many perspectives on this during the conference.

The key to motivating children will always be the teachers. Skilled, experienced and motivated teachers are the building blocks of a great educational system. Our ability to fill our schools with skilled teachers depends on a lot of factors.

We need to make sure the knowledge of the teachers we have is used in the schools.

We need to recruit the best students from the teachers programmes at the universities.

We need to make sure that the best applicants apply to the teachers programmes at the universities. And in order to make sure that there are such applicants we need to have an excellent educational system.

The punch line here is that the students of today will be teaching the students of tomorrow. All the efforts we make today on the educational systems of our nations will affect generations to come. It might also take generations before we see the total outcome of the reforms we have made. You do not educate a child in a day or change a school system in a year.

One area where we have seen improvement over the last few years in Stockholm is the grade results for the male students. Boys statistically have lower grades than girls in our schools. I believe this is a question of culture and motivation and how society treats children differently according to gender. Obviously boys have the capacity to do as well as the girls.

Rest assured – it is not the girls that are too successful it is the boys that are not successful enough.

However after focusing on this issue one can see that the grade-gap between the two genders is decreasing in the public schools of Stockholm. As the average grade is the highest it has ever been I can confidently say that the boys are improving their school results in our city. Every child should have the opportunity to do their best in school, no matter the gender.

While girls are doing very well in our school system, worldwide they are overrepresented in the illiteracy statistics. Gender inequality leads to girls being kept out of schools more often than boys and many grow up to be women that have never learned to read.

One should never lose sight on what is truly the greatness of education. “Education is the key to a free and stable world” I said at this conference in 2008. Today only 80 % of the world’s population is literate. However – this is the highest literacy number ever. More people are getting educated every day, even more girls than ever.

The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals Report 2011 listed a number of countries where enrolment in primary school had increased more than 25 % over the last 10 years. That is truly an educational success!

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