5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning
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Norway does not have a designated national strategy on citizenship education, but social and civic competences and their development are an integrated component of the National Core Curriculum. The core curriculum applies to primary and secondary education and training in Norway.
The core curriculum elaborates on the core values in the Education Act which are:
- Human dignity
- Identity and cultural diversity
- Critical thinking and ethical awareness
- The joy of creating, engagement and the urge to explore
- Respect for nature and environmental awareness
- Democracy and participation
The core curriculum emphasises that primary and secondary education and training is an important part of a lifelong process which has the individual's all-round development, intellectual freedom, independence, responsibility and compassion for others as its goal. The teaching and training shall give the pupils a good foundation for understanding themselves, others and the world, and for making good choices in life. It shall also provide a good point of departure for participation in all areas of education, work and societal life.
The Education Act spells out requirements for student participation in decision making at primary and lower secondary schools.
Participation in the running of the school (budget, optional subjects in curriculum, decision related to common room facilities):
§ 11-1 Education Act: At each primary and lower secondary school there shall be a coordinating committee with two representatives for the teaching staff, one for other employees, two for the parents’ council, two for the pupils and two for the municipality. One of the representatives for the municipality shall be the head teacher of the school.
§ 11-5 Education Act: At each upper secondary school there is to be a school committee consisting of representatives for the staff and the county authority and two representatives elected by the pupils’ council. The head teacher of the school is to be a representative for the county authority
Participation in student bodies (pupils 'parliament, pupils' councils):
§ 11-2 Education Act: At each primary and lower secondary school there shall be one pupils’ council for grades 5–7 and one for grades 8–10 with pupil representatives. The municipality shall determine the number of pupils’ representatives.
§ 11-6 Education Act: At each upper secondary school there is to be a pupils’ council consisting of at least one member for every twenty pupils. The pupils’ council shall be elected by written ballot.
Participation in maintaining a good learning and school environment:
§ 11-1A Education Act: At each primary and lower secondary school there shall be a school environment committee. The pupils, the parents’ council, the employees, the school management, and the municipality shall all be represented on the school environment committee. The school environment committee shall be composed in such a way that the representatives of the pupils and the parents together comprise a majority.
§ 11-5a Education Act: At each upper secondary school there is to be a school environment committee. The pupils, the employees, the school management and the county authority shall all be represented on the school environment committee. The school environment committee is to be composed in such a way that the pupils’ representatives constitute a majority.
Supporting non-formal learning initiatives focusing on social and civic competences:
Mock elections in upper secondary schools are used as a pedagogical tool to make the teaching about politics more interesting and contribute to increased political awareness and competence among the pupils. Mock elections have been arranged prior to all parliamentary and local elections in Norway since 1989, including the referendum about Norwegian membership in the European Union in 1994. In addition to the mock elections, an election survey among pupils and a representative sample of the Norwegian population is conducted. The data makes it possible to analyse sub-groups of the age-cohort 15–19-year-olds. Further, it is possible to compare the pupils’ attitudes and values to the general population, and to analyse changes over time. All high schools in Norway are invited to participate, and each school decides whether it will take part in the election, and whether it also will participate in the survey. The project is financed by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training and the Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD) is responsible for running the elections and surveys. To ensure that the school election and the election survey result in contextual learning, NSD also develops various teaching resources. These teaching resources may be used by all teachers and pupils in the Norwegian upper secondary schools.
The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU) together with several other non-governmental organisations typically organise campaigns aimed at encouraging young people to participate in the mock elections. Such campaigns sometimes receive funding from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) has developed digital games, learning resources and films about local democracy, participation, and the municipal sector. The resources are free and suitable for students in upper secondary schools. KS also has a visitor’s centre which is open to schools.
There is no national system of quality assurance of non-formal learning. Instead, funds, ministries, associations and municipalities have their own quality criteria depending on the type of funding they provide.
Continuous training and certification related to the development of social and civic competences is not something that is offered separately in Norway, as citizenship and democracy is not an isolated subject in Norway, but integrated in all subjects taught.
A certification programme that has a significant focus on developing social and civic competences is the strategy “Competence for Quality.”
The Strategy “Competence for Quality” [Kompetanse for kvalitet - Strategi for videreutdanning for lærere og skoleledere frem mot 2025] aims to provide teachers and school leaders with Professional development opportunities
The competence development is provided by the University Colleges and financed by The Directorate for Education and Training. The teachers and school leaders can apply for scholarship and the local school authorities can apply for grants for substitute teachers. Local school authorities make the decision and distribute the grant and the scholarships.
The main goal for the strategy is to improve learning outcomes for the pupils.
The subjects prioritised are Norwegian, English, Mathematics, Norwegian sign language and Sami.