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A brief history of education in Norway

©J.W. Cappelens arkiv©J.W. Cappelens arkiv

Until the middle of the 1700s most Norwegians were illiterate. Only a few could read and write.

The church thought it was important for people to be able to read the Bible. Therefore, in 1739, Norway got its first Education Act. At school children learned reading and about Christianity. In 1827, the subjects writing, mathematics and singing were introduced. Children were allowed to go to school for a few weeks every year. Children in the cities went to school more than children in the countryside. Children started school when they were 7 years old and they finished when they were around 14 years old (and were confirmed in the church.)

In 1936, 7 year compulsory schooling was introduced. However, schooling was not the same for everyone. For example, boys were taught more mathematics than girls, and girls learnt about keeping house and cooking.

After the Second World War (1939–1945), the concepts of equality and equal worth were important in Norwegian society. This also applied to schooling. All children were supposed to be provided with an education of equal worth. There were not meant to be any differences between the children of rich parents and the children of poor parents. Boys and girls were supposed to be provided with the same education. Nor was where they lived in the country supposed to make any difference.

In 1969, compulsory schooling was extended to 9 years, and in 1997 it was extended to 10 years for everyone.

©Olav Olsen/Scanpix©Olav Olsen/Scanpix

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