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History of Schooling

Politics and Local Practice

Edited By Carla Aubry and Johannes Westberg Ph.D.

The relationship between education policy and local practices is at the core of research pertaining to the history of education. In this volume, the authors examine this issue from a multitude of perspectives, presenting a broad and comprehensive picture of schooling on international, national and local levels. Three issues of great significance, both in the history of schooling, and for educational policy – «School Finance», «School Reform» and «School Media» – are discussed in relation to five European countries by addressing topics such as textbook supply in the eighteenth century, the spread of monitorial education, the rise of educational expenditure during the nineteenth century, and the internationalization of educational policy during the twentieth century.

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School finance: funding and regional variations

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The distribution of government grants in Sweden, 1865-1900 Johannes Westberg 15 It is a well-known fact that the emerging system of mass education in Swe­ den and other W estern societies was characterized by significant regional differences. As W. B. Stephens has noted on the history of English literacy, one cannot talk about a national condition before 1870 without distorting reality.1 Consequently, regional and local variations have been examined in a number of studies of the history of literacy and schooling, whereby these were portrayed both as an inevitable consequence of the expansion of schooling, as well as an essential condition for this development.2 An absolutely fundamental assumption in this body of research is that not all school districts were created equal, and that significant differences between rich and poor ones were commonplace during the nineteenth cen­ tury.3 The study of these regional differences in funding has, however, seldom been pursued further. This chapter addresses this issue through an examina­ tion of the distribution of central government grants across Sweden’s dioceses, counties and school districts during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Several questions will be answered. Did the densely populated areas benefit from the government grant system, or was it the sparsely populated ones that saw the greatest improvements? W hat impact did the grant reform of 1871 have on the actual grant allocation? Did the regional differences increase or decrease over time? 1 W. B. Stephens, Education, literacy and society, 1830-70: The geography o f diversity in...

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