TUVA – preparatory education for an upper secondary qualification – is a new type of education containing elements of what used to be known as “the tenth grade” or VALMA.
Coordinator of the programme, Sonja Andersson has much experience with the tenth grade and says the TUVA programme has both advantages and disadvantages compared to the tenth grade.
–The tenth grade was an extra year of comprehensive school, as everyone had the same curriculum. The common framework was thought to help young people establish routines. The new programme gives students more freedom to find motivation, says Andersson.
That freedom is positive, as it means each student can focus on the subjects and interests that are important and relevant to them – but it also requires more independence on the part of students.
–It's a challenge. So it would be good if it could be a little more controlled. The programme guidelines are established along the way, says Andersson.
Important to have the option
The students who take part in the TUVA programme are a very heterogeneous group. For example, many of them have no leaving certificate from comprehensive school.
–And then there are those whose applications in the joint application process were too narrow, resulting in students with nearly an 8.0 average in the subject not being accepted to a programme, explains Andersson.
She points to the pandemic and its toll on young people.
–A number of the students who study here were impacted by those difficult years. They need to strengthen their foundations and rediscover how to navigate in groups and on their own, says Andersson.
She believes this group should have its very own programme.
–It's important that young people are given a chance, even after comprehensive school. We don't choose our baggage; the reasons for needing this kind of programme can vary widely.
Looking to improve marks
Fifteen-year-old Sami Korander applied for the TUVA programme after not being accepted to their choice of upper secondary studies.
–I am taking an extra year to strengthen my skills and try and figure out what I want to do after general upper secondary, says Korander.
During their year in TUVA, they want to strengthen their skills in maths, history, chemistry and physics. Their classmate 17-year-old Mohammed Sahib is in the TUVA programme for similar reasons.
–I’m trying to improve my grades and I have a few options for what I do after this year, he says.
They are two of the 40 or so students participating in the TUVA programme this year. Since everyone has a personalised study plan, the students do not have many classes together, but all of them have done certain assignments in their native language and mathematics.
Participation in general upper secondary school
During the TUVA programme, students have an opportunity to try attending general upper secondary school or a vocational school for a period. Korander, for instance, will take four sections at Tölö Gymnasium, and Mohammed will probably try both general upper secondary school and vocational studies.
–Above all, I want to be a doctor, but I’m also interested in car painting and a lot of other things, says Sahib.
One alternative for him is to pursue a ‘combined programme', which entails both a matriculation exam and vocational training, but it would involve attending upper secondary school Tölö Gymnasium's evening classes for adults, which he is not so keen on.
Sonja Andersson points out that the TUVA programme offers an excellent opportunity to try out both vocational studies and, for example, take classes in advanced mathematics at a general upper secondary school.
–As part of the TUVA programme, it's enough that students familiarise themselves with an educational programme, but they can also complete classes or sections that will count as credit at a later stage, explains Andersson.
The goal: a final destination
At the core, the idea behind the TUVA programme is to give everyone a chance to get an education that suits them.
It's not necessary to complete a full year in the TUVA programme. The only mandatory part of the programme is two weeks of study skills and career planning skills, as well as optional studies from two of the other parts of the programme.
Interested students can apply to the TUVA programme during the joint application period in the spring, but it is also possible to gain admission through the continuous application process if, for instance, the student finds out that the studies they chose for the upper secondary level are not right for them.
–I recommend discussing it with the student counsellor or career guidance counsellor at your school before interrupting your studies. Naturally, there are alternatives at the various educational establishments, but this is one option, says Andersson.
For Mohammed Sahib, higher grades are the best thing that could happen during his year at TUVA.
–That I succeed, he says.
For Sami Korander, it's more a matter of finding the right branch. Right now they are going back and forth between starting their own café or studying web design.
–I would recommend TUVA. Here you get the help you need and a programme that suits your needs. As for me, I plan to find out what I want to do with my life, a final destination, they say.
Original text in Swedish and photo: Michaela von Kügelgen