Historical archive

Nightingale

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Children and Equality

As part of the Government’s strategy for increasing the multicultural knowledge in the child welfare service, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion has initiated the mentoring programme Nightingale. The programme runs at eight universities and university colleges in Norway and is funded by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.

As part of the Government’s strategy for increasing the multicultural knowledge in the child welfare service, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion has initiated the mentoring programme Nightingale. The programme runs at eight universities and university colleges in Norway and is funded by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.

Nightingale has two main aims:

1. Strengthen the multicultural knowledge in the child welfare service by giving students at child welfare and social work programmes better knowledge about children, youth and families with minority background.

2. Encourage more children and youth with minority background to finish secondary school and proceed to higher education.


The Nightingale programme is offered to children in primary school between 8 and 12 years of age with minority background. Students at child welfare and social work programmes can apply to become mentors, and if they are accepted they are appointed mentors for a year. Their application is processed by the project coordinator at each university or university college, and each mentor is matched with a child in collaboration with the child’s school. It is an aim that the children meet adult role models with various ethnic backgrounds. It is therefore important that effort is made to recruit students with minority background as mentors.

Background

Nightingale was established at Malmö University College in Sweden in 1997. The programme is based on the Israeli mentoring scheme Perach. Since 1974 this scheme has been used to integrate, empower and support children from underprivileged areas. Today the Nightingale mentoring programme runs in five European countries in addition to Norway and Sweden. In Norway, Nightingale also runs at the University of Stavanger, where student teachers may apply to become mentors for children with minority background.

There are clear boundaries for the time mentors and children spend together. Each mentor is expected to spend 2-3 hours with the child a week and take part in various activities both alone with the child and together with a group of other mentors and children.

The nightingale is chosen as a symbol for the programme, as it is known to sing beautifully when it feels safe. This reflects the aim of the mentoring programme; an increased self esteem in the child, a sense of better coping skills, and feeling safe both alone and in relation to other children. The child is meant to get an insight into the life of their mentor and understand the importance of education and get inspired to finish school and proceed to higher education. It is also an aim that the children in Nightingale get a positive view of students at child welfare and social work programmes, in order to encourage more youth with minority background to pursue these studies at university level.

Through the time he or she spends with the child, the mentor will acquire both practical skills and knowledge about communicating and spending time with children with minority background, especially children with limited Norwegian skills. This knowledge will be an important asset in a future career in the child welfare service. Nightingale is thus based on mutual benefit for both children and students. The universities and university colleges will offer the students supervision throughout the mentoring year, a scholarship and a proof of completed mentorship.

Why is Nightingale so important?

Most children and youth with minority background in Norway are successful both at school and in their local communities. An increasing number of youth with minority background finishes secondary school and proceeds to studies at universities and university colleges. On the other hand, numbers from Statistics Norway show that about one in three secondary school students drops out of school, and the numbers are particularly high among boys. At the same time, statistics from OECD show that four in ten children and youth with immigrant background lack basic mathematics skills and have poor language skills. Through participating in Nightingale, children with minority background get the opportunity to improve their language skills, increase their self esteem and are encouraged to focus on school. These are all important factors in succeeding at school, bearing in mind that children with minority background often face challenges which children with majority background often do not face.

Numbers from Statistics Norway also show that children with minority background are more frequently in contact with child welfare service than children with majority background. At the same time, statistics show that only around 2 per cent of employees in the child welfare service have a non-western minority background, while around 3 per cent of students at child welfare and social work programmes have a non-western minority background. These numbers do not correspond with the make-up of clients in the child welfare service. Nightingale offers students a unique experience and knowledge that will be an asset as employees in the child welfare service, while children with minority background get a positive insight into everyday life of child welfare and social work students. This is important in order to strengthen the multicultural knowledge and skills in the child welfare service and encourage more youth with minority background to pursue these studies at university level.

How is Nightingale in Norway organised?

Nightingale is run by eight universities and university colleges from Bodø in north to Kristiansand in south. These are:

• Bergen University College
• Bodø University College
• Lillehammer University College
• Oslo University College
• Sør-Trøndelag University College
• Telemark University College
• University of Agder
• Østfold University College 


Nightingale is funded by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion. Each of the universities and university colleges has employed a project coordinator. Among other tasks, the coordinator recruits and supervises mentors, collaborates with primary schools in the programme, matches children with mentors, and informs parents, the local community and local media about the programme.

Nightingale is a three-year trial programme. It will be research evaluated during and after the trial period.