Sweden brings more books and handwriting practice back to its tech-heavy schools

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. digitalize / ˈdɪdʒ ɪ tlˌaɪz / (v.) – to use digital technology, such as computers and the internet, to do something

    Many hotels have digitalized their booking systems. People can now book a room online.

  2. deficit / ˈdɛf ə sɪt / (n.) – a lack of skill, knowledge, or ability

    The football coach noticed the skills deficit among the players, so he extended their training by an hour.

  3. youngster / ˈyʌŋ stər / (n.) – a young person, especially children or teenagers

    The school organized a school trip to the museum to educate youngsters about art.

  4. fall behind / fɔl bɪˈhaɪnd / (phrasal v.) – to fail to do something as planned or as expected

    Sarah is falling behind in her studies because she is always absent from school.

  5. counter / ˈkaʊn tər / (v.) – to take action in response to something, usually to oppose an opinion or situation

    The police introduced stricter policies to counter the increasing crime rate in the area.


Read the text below.

As young children went back to school across Sweden in August, many of their teachers were putting a new emphasis on printed books, quiet reading time, and handwriting practice and devoting less time to tablets, independent online research, and keyboarding skills.

The return to more traditional ways of learning is a response to politicians and experts questioning whether the country’s hyper-digitalized approach to education, including the introduction of tablets in nursery schools, had led to a decline in basic skills.

Swedish Minister for Schools Lotta Edholm announced in August in a statement that the government wants to reverse the decision by the National Agency for Education to make digital devices mandatory in preschools. It plans to go further and to completely end digital learning for children under age 6, the ministry also told The Associated Press.

Some learning deficits may have resulted from the coronavirus pandemic or reflect a growing number of immigrant students who don’t speak Swedish as their first language, but overuse of screens during school lessons may cause youngsters to fall behind in core subjects, education experts say.

In a report published in August, UNESCO issued an “urgent call for appropriate use of technology in education.” The report urges countries to speed up internet connections at schools, but at the same time warns that technology in education should be implemented in a way so that it never replaces in-person, teacher-led instruction and supports the shared objective of quality education for all.

To counter Sweden’s decline in 4th grade reading performance, the Swedish government announced an investment worth 685 million kronor (60 million euros or $64.7 million) in book purchases for the country’s schools this year. Another 500 million kronor will be spent annually in 2024 and 2025 to speed up the return of textbooks to schools.

“The Swedish government does have a valid point when saying that there is no evidence for technology improving learning, but I think that’s because there is no straightforward evidence of what works with technology,” Neil Selwyn, a professor of education at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said. “Technology is just one part of a really complex network of factors in education.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • What do you think are the pros and cons of using digital devices during school lessons? Do you think that its pros outweigh the cons? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Swedish Minister for Schools Lotta Edholm plans to completely end digital learning for kids younger than 6 years old. Do you agree with this plan? Why or why not? In your opinion, at what age should kids start using digital technology in school? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Teachers in Sweden are putting a new emphasis on traditional learning tools than digital ones. Do you think your country needs to do this as well? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Based on your observation, how much did technology change education in your country? Do you like this change or not? Why? Discuss.