Education and learning

Historic development

Norway has a long tradition of learning and education. The financial situation in the country was extremely difficult in the 1700s. But education was considered important and it was decided that all children should go to school and that the government would pay for their education.

Gutteklasse, 1885 Pikeskole, 1895

  • As far back as the first half of the 18th century, free education became mandatory for all children, both boys and girls. The idea was that everyone would learn to read so they could read the Bible on their own. All children were also to be taught about Christianity.
  • At that time, it was not common to go to school every day. Many children went to school every other day or only a few weeks a year.
  • More and more subjects were gradually introduced into schools. Writing, arithmetic and singing, for example, were mandatory subjects in the early 1800s.
  • In 1936 it was decided that all children should complete at least seven years of schooling. This amount has been ten years since 1997.
  • The politicians in Parliament approve all curricula used in different schools. This guarantees that children learn the same things everywhere in the country.


Historic development

1739: The first School Act. Compulsory subjects were Christianity and reading.

1827: New School Act. Also writing and mathematics became compulsory.

1936: Equality in education was introduced.

1969: 9 years of mandatory education.

1997: 10 years of mandatory education.

School contents

The curriculum taught at schools has changed considerably over the past 300 years in which education has been mandatory in Norway. In the 1700s, the goal of education was to teach students about Christianity. Later on, different types of practical skills, like writing, arithmetic, cooking, sewing and carpentry, were added to the curriculum.


Today, information is easy to find. Children use computers and the Internet from a very young age. It is important to teach children how to find good information and to be critical about the information they find. Children need to learn to think independently. They need to learn to use the information they find, resolve different types of problems, and work together with others. They must also learn factual knowledge and basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills.