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Structure of the Norwegian Education System

Norway, as of today, is considered in Top 20 best places in the world to study. The motto “Education for All” makes the Norwegian Education System role model for several countries in the world.

School Educational Structure

The entire spectrum of school system in Norway can be categorized into following phases:

Kindergarten(Barnehage)

Kindergarten can be considered as the first stepping stone of a child into the school education. It is targeted towards the toddlers’ upto the age of 5 Kindergarten education is not mandatory but still today increasing number of parents prefers to send their child to school reason being:-
  • Firstly, sending a child to kindergarten help both parents to take up paid jobs
  • Secondly, most parents believe that sending a child to kindergarten will help the child to open up and also easily mix with other children in safe surrounding under adult supervision.
At kindergarten level, children are taught certain behavioral skills that help them to:

•    Mix freely with other children
•    Be more independent
•    Show considerations to others
•    Be better prepare to attend the formal school

A kindergarten school can be either Government owned or privately owned. There is approximately equal number of both public and private kindergartens (Source - Statistics Norway (SSB) 2013). The same rules and regulations are applicable for both private and public kindergartens.

Primary School(Barneskole)

Primary school is considered as the entry level to the formal schooling system. It covers the education level for children in the age group of 6-13 years.The primary school covers the grade 1-7. As per Norwegian Education Policy”Compulsory 10-Year Education” it is mandatory to send the children in the age group 6-16 years to school.  At primary level, an introductory test is conducted to judge whether the student is above average or need some special assistance in studies.

Lower Secondary School(Ungdomsskole)

The next stage in school education structure is lower secondary school. It is targeted towards the children in the age group of 13-16 years The corresponding grade covered is 8-10. Similar to primary school, the lower secondary school is also a part of ”compulsory 10-Year education” and hence attending school is mandatory at this level. It is in lower secondary classes, when students are given grades for their works. The grades decide the upper secondary school they will attend 

Upper Secondary School(Videregaende skole)

After completing Lower Secondary school, students can go for optional three years ”upper secondary school (similar to high school). This phase of schooling is targeted towards adolescents in the age group of 16-19 years.  The educational structure of the upper secondary school is divided into three levels namely, VG1, VG2 and VG3.In upper secondary school, a student can go for either general studies or vocational programs. The general studies subjects usually focuses more on theoretical knowledge and is conducted in school for the entire three years (VG1-VG3). The overall curriculum for upper secondary school is organized into 12 educational categories as listed below:
  • Programs for General Studies:
  • Program for Specialization in General Studies
  • Program for Sports and Physical Education
  • Program for Music, Dance and Drama
Vocational Education Programs:
  • Program for Building and Construction
  • Program for Design, Arts and Crafts
  • Program for Electricity and Electronics
  • Program for Health and Social Care
  • Program for Media and Communication
  • Program for Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry
  • Program for Restaurant and Food Processing
  • Program for Service and Transport
  • Program for Technical and Industrial Production
After successful completion of general studies program, the students becomes eligible for direct admission to general university programs. The vocational education path comprises of two years in school (VG1 and VG2) and two years of apprenticeship in some company. On successful completion of the apprenticeship, a craft or a journeyman’s certificate is earned. A student under vocational education can also go for the general university programs. For doing so, the student needs to go for a one year supplementary program (at VG3 level).

The Bologna Process

The Bologna Process is a set of agreements signed by participating European countries to ensure uniformity in the quality and standards of higher education. As of now there are 47 participating countries that adhere to the “Bologna Process”. Norway is amongst the first few countries that agreed upon Bologna process implementation in the higher education area.

A key feature of the Bologna Process is that the entire higher education system structure is divided into three cycles corresponding to bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees, respectively. The advantage of adapting this  process is that the students completing any course fully or partially can now get recognition of their qualification in other countries as well.

Higher Education System

The students after completion of three years of “upper secondary education” under “General Studies stream” or one year supplementary under “vocational program stream” can go for higher education.  However, there is an alternative to the mentioned eligibility criterion, it is called “23/5 law”. As per this law any person who satisfies the following three criteria is eligible to enroll himself/herself to an higher education program:
  • The person having age of 23 years or above.
  • The person having total of 5 years combined experience of schooling and work experience.  
  • The person having passed exams in English, Norwegian, natural sciences, mathematics, and social studies.
Institutes

The academic institutions that impart higher education programs can be broadly classified as:

Universities:
Offers degrees on the theoretical subjects as well as  professional courses in total, there are eight universities in Norway, all public.

Specialized Universities: Provide educational degrees in areas like Sports, Music, Logistics, etc. Apart from domain-specific subjects no other courses are conducted in these universities. There are nine specialized universities ( six public and three private).

University Colleges: Provides degrees in professional courses like engineering Streams In total, there are 24 university colleges

Private Institutions: Offers various degree programs in specialized areas like Business Management, Fine Arts, Marketing, etc.
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