HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN NORWAY
Organized education in Norway dates back to medieval times. Shortly after when Norway became an archdiocese in 1152, cathedral schools were constructed to educate priests in Trondheim, Oslo, Bergen and Hamar.
In 1536, Norway entered a personal union with Denmark and after the reformation in 1537, the cathedral schools were turned into Latin schools, and it was mandatory for all market towns to have such schools.
Until the middle of the 1700s most Norwegians were illiterate and only a few could read and write. The church believed that it was important for people to be able to read the Bible. Therefore, in 1739, Norway got its first Education Act. At school children learned reading and about Christianity.
In 1736 training and reading became compulsory for all children, but was not effective until some years later. In 1827, Norway introduced “folkeskole”, a primary school which became mandatory for 7 years in 1889 and 9 years in 1969.The subjects writing, mathematics and singing were introduced. Children were allowed to go to school for a few weeks every year. Children in the cities went to school more than children in the countryside. Children started school when they were 7 years old and they finished when they were around 14 years old (and were confirmed in the church.)
In 1936, 7 year compulsory schooling was introduced. However, schooling was not the same for everyone. For example, boys were taught more mathematics than girls, and girls learnt about house cleaning and cooking to become a good homemaker.
Husmorskolen in 1937.
After the Second World War (1939–1945), the concepts of equality and equal worth were important in Norwegian society. This also applied to schooling. All children were supposed to be provided with an education of equal worth. There were not meant to be any differences between the children of rich parents and the children of poor parents. Boys and girls were supposed to be provided with the same education. Nor was where they lived in the country supposed to make any difference.
In 1969, compulsory schooling was extended to 9 years, and in 1997 it was extended to 10 years for everyone.
Timeline of Higher education in Norway
Before the 19th century the main source for higher education of Norwegians was the University of Copenhagen.
• 1750: The Norwegian Military Academy was established as the “Free Mathematical School” with officer training and technical disciplines such as geographic surveying, drawing, fortification and mathematics.
• 1757: The “Mining Seminar” is established at Kongsberg to train engineers for the Kongsberg Mines. This education was moved to the Royal Frederik’s University in Christiania (Oslo) in 1814 (three years after the establishment of this university).
• 1811: The University of Oslo was established as Universitas Regia Fredericiana modeled on the University of Berlin (the “Humboldt Model”).
• 1859: The Norwegian University of Life Sciences is established as an agricultural school at Ås, Akershus.
• 1910: The Norwegian Institute of Technology was established in Trondheim.
• 1936: The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration was established at Bergen.
• 1943: BI Norwegian Business School was established as a merchant school.
• 1946: University of Bergen was established.
• 1972: University of Tromsø was established.
• 2005: Stavanger University College is given the status as University becoming The University of Stavanger.
• 2007: Agder University College (established in 1994) is given status as university becoming University of Agder.
• 2011: Bodø University College becomes University of Nordland, the 8th university in Norway.
The Norwegian educational system aims to be among the best in the World with regards to both academic levels and breadth of participation and completion rates. The quality of our education and training is instrumental for the qualities developed in our society.
Education for all is a basic precept of Norwegian educational policy. Children and young people must have an equal right to education, regardless of where they live, gender, social and cultural background or any special needs.
All public education in Norway is free of charge, while kindergartens have parental fees.
Elementary school (Primary school); “Barneskole”, grades 1-7 ages 6-13
In the first year of primary school, the students are mostly playing educational games, learning social structures, learning the alphabet, basic addition and subtraction, and basic English skills. In second grade at age 7 the children are introduced to math’s, English, Norwegian, science, religion, esthetics and gymnastics, complemented by geography, history, and social studies in the fifth grade at year 6. No official grades are given at this level, however, the teacher often writes a comment – analysis and sometimes an unofficial grade on tests. Tests are to be taken home and shown to parents. They also have an introductory test to let teacher know if the student is above the grade average or is in need of some assistance at school.
Junior High School (Lower secondary school): “Ungdomsskole”, grades 8-10 ages 13-16
When the students enter lower secondary school, at age 12 or 13, they begin getting grades for their work. Their grades together with their location in the country will determine whether they get accepted at their high school of choice or not. From the eighth grade (Yr 9 or S3/4), the students can choose one elective (valgfag). Typical subjects the students are offered are the languages German, French and Spanish as well as additional English and Norwegian studies. Before the educational reform starting August 2006, students could choose a practical elective instead of the languages.
In 2009, Norwegian 15 year olds performed better in OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment than other Scandinavian countries.
Short summary of the subjects in primary and lower secondary education:
•Christian Knowledge, Religious and Ethical Education (KRL)
•Arts and crafts
•2nd and 3rd foreign languages
•Food and health
•Class and pupil council work
High school (Upper Secondary School/College): Videregående skole, grades VG1, VG2 and VG3, age 16-19
Upper secondary school is 3 years of optional schooling, although recent changes to society (few jobs available for the age group) and law (government required by law of 1994 to offer secondary schooling in one form or another to everyone between 16 and 18 who submit the application form) has made it largely unavoidable in practice.
Secondary education in Norway is primarily based on public schools: In 2007, 93% of upper secondary school students attended public schools. Until 2005, Norwegian law held private secondary schools to be illegal unless they offered a ‘religious or pedagogic alternative’, so the only private schools in existence were religious (Christian), Steiner/Waldorf, Montessori schools and Danielsen. The first “standard” private upper secondary schools opened in the fall of 2005.
Prior to 1994 there were three branches of upper secondary schooling: “General” (language, history etc.), “mercantile” (accounting etc.) and “vocational” (electronics, carpentry etc.) studies. The high school reform of 1994 (Reform 94) merged these branches into a single system. Among the goals of the reform was that everybody should have a certain amount of ‘general studies’ large enough to make them eligible for higher education later, meaning more theory in vocational studies, and it should be possible to cross over from one education path to another without losing too much credit. In the old system, two years of carpentry would be wasted if you wanted to switch to general studies, in the new system you could keep credit for at least half of it.
Since the introduction of the reform “Kunnskapsløftet” fall 2006 (the knowledge promotion), a student will apply for a general studies (studiespesialisering) or a vocational studies (yrkesfag) path. Inside these main paths there are many sub-paths to follow. Kunnskapsløftet also makes it harder to switch between electives that you take in the second and third year in the general studies path.
Students graduating upper secondary school are called “Russ” in Norwegian. Most of them choose to celebrate with lots of parties and festivities, which, impractically, take place a few weeks before the final examinations of the final year.
To be accepted to most higher education schools you must have attained a general university admissions certificate (generell studiekompetanse). This can be achieved by taking general studies while in upper secondary school or through the law of 23/5 where a person must be above 23 years of age, have 5 years of combined schooling and work experience and have passed exams in Norwegian, mathematics, natural sciences, English and social studies. Some degrees also require special electives in second and third grade (e.g. math’s and physics for engineering studies.)
Higher education can be divided into;
Universities concentrate on theoretical subjects (arts, humanities, and natural science), Supply bachelor (3 yrs), master (5 yrs) and PhD (8 yrs) titles. Universities also run a number of professional studies, including law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and psychology, but these are generally separate departments that have little to do with the rest of the university institution.
University College (høyskole), supplies a wide range of educational choices, including university degrees at bachelor, master and PhD levels, engineering degrees and professional vocations like teacher and nurse. The grade system is the same as it is for universities.
Private schools, which tend to specialize in popular subjects with limited capacity in public schools, such as business management, marketing or fine arts. Private schools do not loom large on the horizon, although the fraction of students attending private schools is 10% in higher education, compared to 4% in secondary and 1.5% in primary education.
Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research
The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training
Statistics Norway (Statistisk sentralbyrå) with figures based on 2010
Intro, Cappelen Damm
The Oslo Times