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K-12 -Education System in Norway

Overview

Public Education is free of charge in Norway, while kindergartens have parental fee. The Norwegian parliament and the government set the target and decide the framework for the education sector. The Ministry of Education and Research is in charge for carrying out national educational policy. Education in Norway is mandatory for all children aged 6–16.

The Norwegian school system can be split into three parts: Elementary school (Barneskole, age 6-13), lower secondary school (Ungdomsskole, age 13-16), and upper secondary school (Videregaende skole, age 16-19).

Growth of Schools in Norway

As of 1 October 2013, there were 615 300 students in primary and lower secondary schools, which is an increase of 400 from 2012.  The biggest growth was in Oslo and Akershus counties, with 2.2 and 0.8 per cent respectively.

As per Statistics Norway’s web site, the number of primary and lower secondary schools (1st October’2012) are as follows:
  • Total Primary Schools: 1714
  • Combined Primary and Lower Secondary Schools: 752
  • Lower Secondary Schools: 491
  • Hence, Total Schools: 2957
Source: Statistics Norway

Academic Year

  • Duration - 13 years in total (Kindergarten, primary school, and secondary school )
  • Starts – Runs from mid August to late June the following year.

Language of Instruction

In Norway, the language of instruction is Norwegian and English

Levels in Education & Length of Study
  1. Kindergarten
    The Kindergarten Act governs kindergarten activities in Norway. The Government bears the overall responsibility for quality growth, management and funding of the kindergarten sector, and allocates earmarked funds for the running of kindergartens.
    Age group: 3 to 6 years

  2. Primary and Secondary Education and training
    The state holds the overall responsibility for the Education Act with regulations, contents and funding of primary and secondary education and training. The municipalities are responsible for controlling and administering primary and lower secondary schools, whereas the county agencies are responsible for upper secondary education and training.
    Age group: 6 to 15 years
Compulsory primary and lower secondary schooling in Norway lasts for ten years and children start school the year they turn six. Compulsory education is divided into two principal phases:

Primary school (Barneskole)
Grades: 1–7
Age: 6-13

In the inaugural year of primary school, the students spend most of their time playing educational games, learning the ABC’s and Basic English skills. In grades 2 through 7 they are introduced to math, English, Norwegian, science, social studies, religion, and aesthetics. English is the compulsory foreign language from grade 1.

Grading Mechanism: No official grades are given at this level of study. But, teachers do write a comment on the performance of the students.


Lower secondary school (Ungdomsskole)
Grades: 8–10
Age: 13-16 years

Subjects the students are offered are the languages German, French and Spanish as well as English, Norwegian or Sami studies.

Upper Secondary Education and Training

Grades: VG1-VG3
Age: 16-19 years
 Duration: 3 years
 Leads to: Higher Education or Vocational Qualification

Vocational Education and Training: Upper Secondary Education coordinates general studies and vocational studies. The vocational education and training takes three years, parted into three levels: Vg1, Vg2 and Vg3. In a few cases, vocational education and training takes four years to a Vg4 level. Vocational education and training leads to a craft or journeyman’s certificate, usually after two years in school and one year in-service training in a firm. General studies take three years and lead to general university admission certification. General studies include language, history, accounts etc. courses.

Grading Mechanism


The grades are given to the students at the lower secondary level. A scale running from 1 through 6 is being used, with 6 being the highest and 2 as the lowest passing grade. The grading scale is as follow
  • 6 stands for “Outstanding” proficiency in the subject
  • 5 stands for “Very good”
  • 4 stands for “Good”
  • 3 stands for “Fairly good”
  • 2 stands for “Low”
  • 1 stands for “Very low”

Subjects offered at Primary and Lower Secondary Education

The Subjects of Primary and Lower Secondary Education is as follows:
  • Norwegian
  • Mathematics
  • Social Science
  • Christianity, Religion and Ethics Education (CREE)
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Science
  • English
  • Foreign Languages/ Language In-depth Studies
  • Food and Health
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Student Council Work
  • Optional Programme Subject
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