What is "folkbildning"?

"Folk" means people and "bildning" means learning. Put them together and you get the word "folkbildning", the Swedish form of non-formal adult education.

In our study associations we define bildning as the opportunity to learn for its own sake. What matters is the desire to learn rather than demands set by the outside world. We view learning as a lifelong process where each individual is responsible for his or her own learning. And it encompasses so much more than learning in the formal educational system, which only covers certain periods of our lives.

The study circle

The study circle is the cornerstone of folkbildning. In the circle the participants benefit from their own experiences and knowledge and that of others. The group share their learning, building on their own interest and desire to learn. 

Folkbildning - a part of civil society

Folkbildning is part of civil society. Most of the major popular movements in Sweden work in partnership with the study associations. This gives the study associations access to a unique network, enabling them to engage with people who few other organisations in society are able to reach.

The state has provided financial support to folkbildning since 1912. It is generally agreed that folkbildning should be run separately from the state, but be financed by public funds. The importance of folkbildning to Swedish society is recognised by all political parties.

Foldern Folkbildning - non-formal adult education in Sweden

The text on this page comes from the folder "Folkbildning, non-formal adult education in Sweden", published by Folkbildningsrådet. To download this folder, go to Folkbildnings-rådets homepage