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.
People want to learn and develop in many different contexts in all phases of life. Swedish folkbildning meets this need – and thereby contributes to societal development and growth. But folkbildning also has an intrinsic value because well-informed and active citizens constitute the core of democracy. Folkbildning is open to everyone in society. In folkbildning, everyone participates on equal terms, but based on different conditions. People seek knowledge and development through folkbildning for various reasons. All of these reasons are meaningful – regardless of whether it is a question of personal development, increasing the chances of finding a new job, or simply a desire to learn.
In Sweden there are currently ten study associations to which the Swedish National Council of Adult Education distributes grants. The study associations have different profiles and emphases in their activities. There are close connections between the study associations and the Swedish popular movements, such as disabled, immigrant or environmental organisations. The study associations are located throughout Sweden. The study circle is the most important form of study in the study associations. In the study circle, a small group meets to learn together based on a plan of study and with a study circle leader. There are study circles in hundreds of different subjects. Some have a more theoretical emphasis, such as language, history and studies in current social issues. Others are more practically oriented, such as dance, woodworking, instrumental music and so forth.
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. Learning is a lifelong process on your own responsibility and on your own initiative. And it encompasses so much more than learning in the formal education system, which only covers certain periods of our lives.
By arranging cultural events and lectures, the study associations contribute to a rich cultural life throughout the country. Kulturens is founded by national associations within the cultural field and arts.