Tensions in Inclusion/Integration agendas in Swedish Adult education in the 21 century

Key words: Adult education, Language education, immigrants, refugees, one-school-for-all agenda, inclusion, integration, culture, SWaSP, democratic missions

Using ethnographic approaches, project TISA-21 aims to explore the tensions present in practices that are perceived as contributing to inclusion and integration, particularly within the Swedish Municipal Adult Education system (Komvux). The goal is to gain a better understanding of these tensions. Project TISA-21 has a particular interest in the teaching of the school subject “Swedish as a second language” and how other agendas, beyond explicit language instruction, are manifested in this context and how changes in society shape this education.

The Swedish school system (including adult education) builds on a “one-school-for-all”-ethos. This is understood as an inclusive and compensatory mission, wherein educational inequalities (such as low literacy levels) should be compensated to ensure equal outcomes “for-all” citizens. Like K-12 education, Komvux or Municipal Adult education in Sweden is free for everyone who needs it. In addition to the explicit mission of knowledge transfer and similar to the rest of the K-12 school system in Sweden, Komvux has the mission of conveying democratic values and enabling students to become active citizens in Sweden’s “one -society-for-all” context. Komvux also has an increasingly prioritized mission to provide the labor market with competent workforce.

Theoretical points of departure:
Sociocultural understandings of knowledge as being non-static, and sociocultural theories about communication and learning are a point of departure for project TISA-21. Coupled with a mobile gaze shaped by southern thinking and decolonial theory, project TISA-21 is interested in the taken-for-granted assumptions that have influenced and shaped both language education policies and how schools and teachers try to fulfill their missions. Such a performative and decolonial gaze provides opportunities to (re-)think what language is and how Eurocentric assumptions about language are deeply connected to power relations. Such assumptions have shaped policies, but also language teachers’ education, and thereby language education in general. As a theoretical and analytical tool, a “Second wave of southern perspective” (SWaSP) provides an important framework for project TISA-21. SWaSP not only helps to make visible what can otherwise be taken for granted but also directs the analytical gaze towards the use of language and the shaping of identity-positions, as well as helps to create a "third position" that enables transcending naturalized dichotomies like integration-segregation, Swedish-non Swedish, teacher-student, and what counts as language (here Swedish) and what does not. Such a SWaSP mobile gaze and a third position lens provides a fruitful way to analyze democratic dimensions of language education policies and practices within the framings of a “one-society-for-all” context.

Karin Ingeson, Phd student, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University. karin.ingeson@ju.se
Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta, Professor in Education, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University. sangeeta.bagga-gupta@ju.se
Rebecka F Sädbom, Assistant professor, Department of Natural and Social Sciences
School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University.