In Norway early childhood education is the first voluntary step in a long educational pathway. The Norwegian educational system is centralized, egalitarian, and has a small private sector. The system is centralized as state policy plays a large part in decision-making in education.
The system is described as egalitarian. This is mainly because there are no selection procedures during compulsory education. This comprehensive system includes a minimum of ten years of basic education for all children. Further, young people who have completed lower secondary school have the right to three years of upper secondary education. Comprehensive schools are attended by primary and secondary age students, with only 3 percent of school pupils attending private schools. Therefore, Norway has been praised for its public nonselective schools and teaching standards. Private schools are partially funded by the state and they have to offer an alternative pedagogical education grounded in a specific pedagogical philosophy or belief.
Most universities and higher education programs in Norway are public and therefore free for students. 35.4 percent of youths between the ages of 17 and 24 were enrolled in higher education in 2017. Norwegian universities see a huge influx of international students due to the high quality of education and state funding. Neither home students nor international students pay tuition fees, making public Norwegian universities desirable to international students deciding which university to study at.
Dr. Karin Hognestad is an associate professor-PhD at the University of South-Eastern Norway and Head of the Center for Early Childhood Education Research, Development and Innovation (SEBUTI) at the University of South-Eastern Norway. Dr. Hognestad originally trained as an ECE teacher and has worked in ECE for many years. Her master’s thesis was on ECE-education, focusing on participation for 1-year-olds in ECE centers. Her PhD in Education focused on knowledge management. Her main research interests are early childhood leadership on different levels, practice theory, small children’s voices and children’s rights.