The eight keys to education in Norway

The Norwegian education system could be considered one of the most successful among those evaluated since the PISA tests were carried out. In its general performance, it is above the OECD average and at the specific level, in reading and mathematics, it is above the average and in science slightly below. However, beyond these (good) results there are other factors that may be interesting to us. Let’s see them:


  1. 1. The system

Compulsory education in the Norwegian education system is from 6 to 16 years old. However, children’s education is guaranteed from the first year (the lowest in the OECD) and, between the ages of 3 and 4, Norwegians have a high enrollment rate. Subsequently, the children go to elementary school (6-13 years), lower secondary school (13-16 years) and, if they want, to upper secondary school (16-19) which will open the door to tertiary education to which, incidentally, there is greater access than the OECD average.

  1. 2. Free access and equity

As we explained previously, access to education in Norway occurs from an early age thanks to the municipalities guaranteeing the child’s right to a place in early childhood education. This ease of access is thanks to a significant investment in free public education (in 2007, 93% of schools were public) which, in turn, results in very high equity. In fact, the socio-economic impact on students is one of the lowest in the OECD since all children have the right to adapted education or special assistance if they so require it. Proof of all this is the initiative new possibilities that sought to increase the completion rate of studies thanks to carrying out specific measures with low-performing students

  1. 3. The teaching staff

Teacher training implies passing an initial training of four years plus a practicum, the ratio of students per class is lower than the OECD average and their salaries are higher. In addition, between 2009 and 2014, the GNIST (brightness in Norwegian) initiative was carried out, which sought to increase the quality, training, and teaching status, as well as the improvement of school management. Finally, guidelines have been put in place to reform the training of teachers involved in children aged 1 to 10 years.

  1. 4. The search and evaluation of quality

Beyond the initiatives that seek to improve teacher training, various reforms and projects have been carried out to improve the successful system further. Initiatives have been carried out to improve the acquisition of basic skills and to motivate students. Also, the learning evaluation program (2014-17) has been implemented that seeks to complement the national quality evaluation system (2004) with the aim of improving effective evaluation in schools.

  1. 5. A strategy of effective competences

Related to initiatives based on improving skills , Norway and the OECD carry out a joint project to increase achievement in lower secondary. This project has two objectives: to improve the reading and calculation skills of the students and, secondly, to improve the practices of the teachers in the classroom. The plan implies the detection of effective practices for teachers, principals and schools, the development of teacher support strategies and strengthening the management of schools.

  1. 6. Local management

Although the government sets the general objectives, it is the local authorities who are in charge of making decisions, distributing resources, and directing the centers to lower secondary school. In tertiary education, decision-making rests with the region.

  1. 7. A strong bond with households

For the Norwegian educational system, cooperation between parents, school and students is essential, making it very clear that the education of children is a parental responsibility, with the school seeking to collaborate with parents. In this way, close communication is established that implies interviews, meetings with other parents and the need to be aware of the children’s duties, activities and plans.

  1. 8. An education with very clear values

Norwegian education has apparent values with a deep humanistic root that implies respect for human dignity, nature, intellectual freedom, equality, solidarity, etc. In addition to seeking knowledge and understanding of Norwegian heritage, it is also contrasted with international cultural traditions to promote cultural diversity. Finally, it seeks to promote critical and scientific thinking.