The Folk High School, liberal adult education, believes all people to be free and independent individuals with the right to participate in the democratic society. The aim is to bridge gaps by giving general civic education and to stimulate curiosity and critical thinking. The Folk High School gives people a second chance to search for knowledge, to be a part of a community and perhaps even to change their lives. Groups of special interest are people with short basic education, immigrants, the unemployed and people with various disabilities, but the Folk High Schools also provide special courses. Among these are aesthetic courses, music and studies concerning the developing countries. Some schools provide vocational training for various leader categories, e.g. youth and recreational leaders and drama leaders.
On the one hand the Folk High School is free to develop the content and direction of their courses and has no centrally established standard curriculum. The teaching can be adapted to the needs of the individual and the group. Discussions are central in the education. On the other hand, on certain conditions, the Folk High School courses can be equated with secondary education, and may in this way qualify for higher education.
The first Folk High Schools in Sweden were established in 1868. Now there are 148 schools that are an established part of the Swedish education system. Various organisations run 104 of the schools and county councils or regions run the remaining 44. The Folk High Schools is financed by grants from government, regional governments and local councils.
Valla folkhögskola, is a school for non-formal adult education, which started in 1960 at the Mansion, Herrgården, of Valla. The place of the Mansion, though, dates back to the 1250s when Birger Jarl was the regent of Sweden and Valla was the estate of the ruler. Over the years the school has been enlarged with several new buildings and presently has about 250 students. The school is beautifully situated in the north-western parts of Linköping, adjacent to the University of Linköping, only a few kilometres from the city centre. The staff includes around 25 teachers and 20 office and service staff.
Valla folkhögskola is beautifully situated in an old park in relaxing surroundings. The school offers a place well suited for conferences and courses and also provides good accommodation, both for long-term lodging and for shorter periods.
The responsible organisations for Valla folkhögskola are Studiefrämjandet and Sveriges 4H. Studiefrämjandet is one of the largest study associations for adult education in Sweden, non-political and non-religious, with 18 member organisations, among these the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. Sveriges 4H is a youth organisation free from political and religious affiliations, with diverse programmes for young people.
The board of the school, the responsible organisations and the school staff set the policy of the school. Valla Folk High School wants to:
- Give adults knowledge, culture and a general education corresponding to basic and secondary education
- Support unemployed, immigrants and physically and mentally disabled
- Inspire to critical thinking and co-operation but also make people aware they can act on their own
- Make students take part in society and realise they have an influence on their own lives
- Develop the creativity of the students
- Increase the awareness of international solidarity and environmental issues
- Develop leadership training
- general courses, between one and three years depending on the students’ previous education
- vocational courses for recreation leaders or youth leaders, two years
- courses on developing countries, one year
- courses for slightly disabled adults, one to two years
- special education for event producers, one year
- integrated courses for immigrants and native Swedes, one year