The Education System

Compulsory schooling in Norway is ten years and children start school at the age of six. Primary and lower secondary education in Norway is founded on the principle of a unified school system that provides equal and adapted education for all on the basis of a single national curriculum.

Universal schooling for children was introduced in Norway 250 years ago. From 1889, seven years of compulsory education were provided, 1969 this was increased to nine years and in 1997 to 10 years.

The collective objectives and principles for teaching in primary and lower secondary schools are laid down in the national curriculum. The curriculum for primary and lower secondary education includes:

  • Core curriculum for primary and lower secondary, upper secondary and adult education
  • Principles and guidelines for primary and lower secondary education
  • Curricula for individual subjects

The subject curricula lay down a common learning content for all pupils, which increases in scope throughout the school and is greatest at the lower secondary stage. This common learning content is enlarged on and supplemented to adapt it to local conditions and to the needs of individual pupils.

The Sami curriculum

The culture and traditions of the Sami community are part of the common Norwegian and Nordic culture that both the national curriculum and the special Sami curriculum require all pupils to be acquainted with. In areas defined as Sami districts and according to specific criteria elsewhere in Norway, this teaching is given in accordance with the special Sami curriculum.

For Sami pupils, this teaching is intended to build a sense of security in relation to the pupils’ own culture and to develop Sami language and identity, as well as equipping Sami pupils to take an active part in the community and enabling them to acquire education at all levels. State support is provided for the development of textbooks written in the Sami language. The Sami College has a special responsibility for training Sami teachers. The University of Tromsø has responsibility for Sami language and Sami studies. 

Day-care facilities for school children

From 1 January 1999, all municipalities in Norway have been legally obliged to provide day-care facilities before and after school hours for children attending the first four grades.

Day-care facilities for school children must provide facilities for play and for participation in cultural and recreational activities appropriate for the age, level of physical ability and interests of the children. Such day-care facilities must also provide satisfactory development conditions for children with physical disabilities.

Who is responsible for education in Norway?

The Norwegian parliament (the Storting) and the Government define the goals and decide the budgetary frameworks for education. The Ministry of Education and Research is Norway’s highest public administrative agency for educational matters, and is responsible for implementing national educational policy. A common standard is ensured through legislation and through national curricula.

The National Education Office represents the central government at the regional level. In cooperation with municipal and county authorities, the National Education Office ensures that appropriate schooling is provided for young people in compliance with all regulations concerning the school, and also ensures the provision of adequate adult education facilities.

The municipalities are responsible for running primary and lower secondary schools, while county authorities have responsibility for upper secondary schools. Within the framework of statutes and national curricula, municipalities, schools and teachers are able to decide what learning materials to use and what teaching methods to adopt.

Each school has a head teacher as well as various boards and committees.

FUG acts as a service and information body for parent contacts, Parents’ Council Working Committees and Municipal Parents’ Councils.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is the executive agency for the Ministry of Education and Research.