Norway to invest in practical education

Focus on teaching basic skills through hands-on activities 

brenna vedum

Photo: Frederik Ringnes / NTB
Minister of Education Tonje Brenna (Labor Party) and Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum
(Center Party) talk to the press after the news of a new funding initiative for school buildings.

Gunnhild Hokholt Bjerve

The government will provide municipalities with interest rate support so they can invest in more practical schools. About NOK 30 million will be set aside in next year’s budget.

The government is proposing a loan framework of NOK 1 billion a year over eight years. The initiative allows municipalities to get the interest covered when they take out loans to build school kitchens, workshops, and school gardens, or to buy equipment.

The Ministry of Education estimates that they will spend NOK 30 million on the initiative in next year’s budget. The proposal will be submitted for a hearing, and it is not expected that it will take effect until the second half of the year, NTB is told. How much the state will contribute depends on how much the municipalities invest and how high the interest rate is.

Good for the boys

Education Minister Tonje Brenna (Labor Party) called the initiative historic when she presented it alongside Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum (Center Party) in the woodworking room at Allergot middle school in Jessheim on Sept. 8.

“There has been a lot of talk about practical school, but it has not been followed up with action. Now we are taking measures that give the municipalities the tools to shift their focus away from more academization to a more practical and varied school,” said Brenna.

She believes the initiative will be particularly important for the boys and points out that there are several indicators that the boys end up losing out in school.

“We have had a turn in recent years, which has actually made school a little narrower. There are a very few skills in a very few subjects that we test and measure a lot. But going to school is about much more than that. We believe that using your hands and your body in both learning and problem solving will make more students learn,” she said.

She believes that, over time, employment will increase as more people get through school and get a vocational certificate.

Learning language on a nature hike

Brenna rejects that a more practical school will stand in the way of students learning basic skills, which the conservatives were concerned with when they governed school policy.

“You can learn an incredible amount of language through nature hikes, and you can learn mathematics through woodworking. So I believe that we strengthen the students’ opportunity to learn very basic skills by setting up more practical activities,” said Brenna.

Brenna emphasized that municipalities are still responsible for school buildings.

“But what we are doing is pushing toward also thinking about practical training and education when deciding to invest,” said the minister.

This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is a press agency and wire service that serves most of the largest Norwegian media outlets. The agency is located in Oslo and has bureaus in Brussels, Belgium, and Tromsø in northern Norway