New education reform in norwegian schools

A mom helping her young son with homework on a laptop

In Norwegian schools, great emphasis is placed on the development and keeping up with the times. Because of this, there are new education reforms just about every year, some larger than others. The last reform of a big scope in Norwegian education was in 2006, with the so-called Knowledge Promotion. Before that, in 1994, “Reform 94” decided that all students in Norway should have the right to go to high school. This led to great changes; many educational programs and subjects were completely wiped away, and many others took their place. It’s easy to see that educational reforms can have a big impact on how the school system works.

In this short article, we will look at some of the new education reforms in Norwegian schools, instituted in the year 2020.

Reactions to Covid-19

Back in March 2020, a lot of schools were completely brought to a halt because of the Corona crisis. The national authorities wanted to stop the virus from spreading and thereby found the most sensible course of action to be that of closing the schools. When they started up again in May, new steps were executed by the National Institute of Public Health to keep the virus in check and limit its reach. They made new rules that the local schools were to follow, and which measures they had to take. A key example is to assist youngsters in attaining their education as usual from the safety of their homes when the schools can no longer arrange normal school days.

The government introduced a theoretical model that lets schools and kindergartens know what measures they are required to abide by. This model is based on the colors green, yellow, and red, which symbolize the severity of the situation in any particular place. Green means that the virus is in full or close to full control. Orange means there is a moderate risk of spread. Red means that serious measures must be taken, perhaps even closing the school entirely.

The education reform

Starting in August, a new core curriculum will be introduced in Norwegian schools. It will take the place of the foundational program from 1994. Its main objective is to enable schoolchildren to flourish in the most important years of their development, by having a curriculum dedicated to the right values and principles. It enlists the core values and knowledge that primary schools, up to high schools, should strive to nurture in their students. A central goal of this educational reform, named Subject Renewal, is to create a stronger connection between the overarching curriculum, and the separate specific subjects. The way schools are to achieve this, is by referring back to important parts of the core curriculum in each specific subject.

The specific subject curriculum for primary schools, up through high school, are instituted at the same time as well. It will incorporate both academic schoolings which support research and science, and professional schooling which supports jobs and industries.

According to the plan by the government (regjeringen.no), it should take 3 years to incorporate this educational reform in Norwegian schools.

Emphasis on thorough education

A key goal of the change is to make room for a greater part of thorough learning. The students shouldn’t have to rush through a mountain of material but are instead given ample time to learn thoroughly and become curious about the subject. The topics which are already being presented in schools will stay, but they will be redesigned in such a way that better learning can occur. In this way, new subjects are not to be presented until students have understood the current subject properly.

Practical preparations

Steps have been taken to introduce the changes. For example, key objectives are clearly defined, devices for planning have been chosen, and even Facebook groups have been created so that students can talk freely about the subjects there.

One major key business in continued education through practical apprenticeship is Smartemploy.no, which already have stirred up the whole nation regarding its very new thinking and algorithmic approach to education in Norway.

All in all, the year 2020 introduces fascinating changes to the Norwegian education system, which may or may not end well. The institution of a new core curriculum which is based on values and principles, as well as a focus on linking it to the specific subjects, will be interesting to follow. And we never know; perhaps these reforms will be on par with those of 2006 and 1994?