Norway's Initial Report

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Action plan for preventing unwanted pregnancy and abortion – strategies to improve sexual health

198. The Directorate of Health is responsible for following up the action plan Strategier for bedre seksuell helse [Strategies to Improve Sexual Health] for preventing unwanted pregnancy and abortion. The Amathea Foundation provides information, guidance and dialogue with women and couples who have unintentionally fallen pregnant. Through this service, the foundation wishes to give women the broadest possible basis for making a choice between abortion and completing the pregnancy, and to meet the needs of particularly disadvantaged women and couples.

Article 24 Education

199. Under Article 109 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to education. Children have the right to receive primary and lower secondary education. The education must safeguard the individual’s abilities and needs, and promote respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The state must also ensure access to upper secondary education and equal opportunities for higher education based on qualifications.

200. The Ministry of Education and Research has three overarching goals for the education sector:

  • Education and training to enable personal development and active citizenship.

  • Skills that are needed today and in the future.

  • Research in order to achieve scientific progress, social development and greater competitiveness.

201. The Government has various competence development measures designed to improve quality in kindergarten, primary and secondary education. Efforts to create the inclusive knowledge society must start early, and improving quality in the kindergarten sector is therefore a government priority. All kindergarten children must have a safe environment in which they can develop and learn, in kindergartens that are adequately staffed with sufficiently qualified personnel.

202. Early intervention is decisive for mastering basic skills and for achieving satisfactory learning outcomes. All pupils must receive education that is adapted to their needs. Furthermore, it is essential that everyone needing special language training or special needs education receives it. The key to improving pupils' knowledge levels is to give priority to teacher competence. This Government has therefore given high priority to a range of continuing and further education programmes. Education in Norway is based on the principle of inclusion. A democratic society requires that everyone be given the opportunity to develop their potential. This in turn requires us to facilitate that everyone can realise their learning potential. This is the underlying principle for adapted education. The inclusive kindergarten and school is based on values and a view of humanity with a fundamental respect for human rights and human dignity. These values are enshrined in the objects clause of both school and kindergarten legislation. In individual kindergartens and schools, inclusion means actively taking into consideration the individual circumstances and abilities of children and young people, with respect to both organisation and teaching. Consequently, the Education Act stipulates that the educational system must be of equal quality and adapted to the abilities and circumstances of each child. When a pupil in lower secondary school or a pupil, apprentice or training candidate in upper secondary school does not benefit or is unable to benefit satisfactorily from mainstream education, they are entitled to special needs education. This includes necessary education in alternative and supplementary communication.
Kindergarten and primary and lower secondary education
203. The Kindergarten Act stipulates that children with disabilities have the right to priority for admission to a kindergarten. Children with disabilities are entitled to suitable individual accommodation in municipal kindergartens to ensure equitable development and activity opportunities. In 2013, 3,046 children with disabilities were admitted to kindergartens, 2,006 of which were provided with extra resources. 4,860 children with disabilities attended kindergarten without being given admission priority. 3,126 of them were provided with extra resources. In the kindergarten year 2013‒2014, 6,959 children (2.4 per cent of children attending kindergarten) received special educational support in their kindergartens.
204. Children and young people have an obligation to attend primary and lower secondary education and a right to receive a public primary and lower secondary education. Primary education normally begins in the calendar year in which the child turns the age of six. If an expert assessment raises doubts as to whether a child is sufficiently mature to begin school, the child has the right to postpone starting school by one year if this is requested by the parents. The right and obligation to attend school last until the pupil has completed the tenth year of schooling. Based on an expert assessment and the written consent of the parents, the municipality may decide to fully or partly exempt a pupil from the obligation to receive an education if this is found to be in the interests of the pupil.
205. The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into special needs education in primary and lower secondary schools was submitted to the Storting in 2011. The investigation shows that there are weaknesses in the municipalities’ case processing when assessing the need for special needs education and when granting rights to, planning and following up special needs education. In the white paper published by the Ministry of Education and Research in the same year, Report no 18 to the Storting (2010‒2011) Learning together, many of these challenges were discussed and measures and improvements proposed. Many of these measures have now been initiated and/or implemented.
206. Under the Education Act, children in kindergartens and in primary and lower secondary schools are entitled to instruction both in and through the medium of sign language.

Educational provision
207. When a pupil in primary or secondary education does not benefit or is unable to benefit satisfactorily from mainstream education, the pupil or training candidate is entitled to special needs education. The proportion of special needs education increased significantly between 2000 and 2010, but has since decreased. The annual reports from the county governors show that, parallel with the slight reduction in the number of individual decisions for all grades during the past two years, the total number of appeals concerning special needs education has decreased from 329 in 2010 to 210 in 2013. The county governors report that the various activities and measures for adapted education, special educational support, and special needs education have raised awareness among school owners but that there is still considerable need for follow-up. The same report shows developments in the number of appeals concerning special educational support for children under school age between 2011 and 2014. This applies to appeals filed under the provisions in the Education Act governing special educational support (67 appeals in 2014) and sign language instruction (two appeals in 2014). The earmarked allocation for children with disabilities in kindergartens was incorporated into the municipalities' block grants in 2011. As the figures for appeals show, the number of appeals decreased between 2011 and 2013 and increased slightly between 2013 and 2014. The number of appeals totalled 104 in 2011, 73 in 2012, 58 in 2013, and 69 in 2014.
208. Pupils who have Norwegian sign language as their first language or who, according to an expert assessment, need such instruction, are entitled to primary and lower secondary instruction in and through the medium of sign language. Visually impaired and blind pupils are entitled to necessary instruction in the use of Braille and necessary assistive aids. Pupils also have the right to necessary orientation and mobility instruction in connection with mobility at school, to and from school, and at home. When communicating with others, persons with hearing impairments make extensive use of digital tools in combination with sign language. Digital skills are therefore integrated into the three basic skills for sign language.
209. During the 2014‒2015 school year, individual decisions for special needs education were made for around 8 per cent of pupils in primary and lower secondary school. Boys accounted for around 70 per cent of this figure. The scope and organisation of special needs education vary.
210. During the 2014–2015 school year, just under 4,000 pupils in primary and lower secondary school were affiliated with dedicated special needs units or separate special needs schools. This accounts for around 0.6 per cent of all pupils in primary and lower secondary school and around 8 per cent of pupils receiving special needs education. In addition, just over 1,300 pupils were on placements in alternative learning environments outside the mainstream education provision one day a week or more. Boys accounted for around 80 per cent of this figure. Schools have a limited scope for making use of alternative learning arenas for pupils entitled to special needs education, and any requirement for such arrangements must be stated in the individual decision regarding the pupil's educational needs.
211. Until now, no statistics have been collected on pupils receiving special needs education in upper secondary schools, only figures on pupils registered as taking a planned basic qualification. From the 2013–2014 school year, schools must register all pupils with individual decisions concerning special needs education. Work on implementing and improving registration routines is currently in progress.
212. The municipalities have responsibility for ensuring that pupils' rights to special needs education in primary and lower secondary school are fulfilled. Correspondingly, responsibility in upper secondary schools lies with the county authorities. Special needs education is an individual right that takes precedence over economic considerations. Schools have a duty to notify school owners if they lack financial resources. The school owners are responsible for ensuring that the pupil's individual right for special needs education is fulfilled.
213. The school must have assessed and possibly tested measures within the mainstream educational provision before a decision is made to initiate special needs education. Consent must be obtained from the pupil or from the pupil's parents. The pupil has no obligation to receive special needs education. The provision of special needs education should, as far as possible, be designed in cooperation with the pupil and the pupil's parents, and strong emphasis must be placed on their views. One key principle that is applies to special needs education is the principle of equity. The principle implies that the education provided to pupils with the right to special needs education must be equal in value to that provided to other pupils.
214. The Education Act requires every municipality and county municipality to have an educational and psychological counselling service. This service must help schools with competence development and organisational development activities so as to better accommodate pupils' special needs. It must also ensure that expert assessments are made in cases where this is required by law. The service should systematically help schools and kindergartens to ensure that all children and young people with special needs and support can participate in sound development and learning processes. All pupils with the right to special needs education have a right to an individual subject curriculum. This plan must set out the content of the special needs education, which goals and content apply, and how tuition is to be conducted. A strategy for further education of employees and management in the educational and psychological counselling service has been launched to follow up on the white paper from 2011. The objective of the strategy is to strengthen employees' expertise and focus more heavily on systematising the work of the educational and psychological counselling service.
215. Statped is a national agency that provides special needs educational services to the municipalities and county authorities. Statped should contribute to the provision of adapted and inclusive education for children, young people and adults with special educational needs. Statped has expertise in six defined specialisation fields, and uses a multidisciplinary approach to provide help to individual users and collaborative partners. The six specialisation fields are: deaf-blindness, acquired brain injury, hearing, complex learning difficulties, language and speech, and vision. Statped will develop, adapt and produce necessary learning resources that are not addressed by other actors (publishes or developers). It has specific responsibility for developing teaching aids for children and pupils, Braille, sign language and alternative and supplementary communication.
Upper secondary education
216. Young people who complete primary and lower secondary education or similar education are entitled to apply for three years of full-time upper secondary education. Pupils entitled to special needs education have a statutory right to additional full-time education for up to two years if necessary to achieve their educational objectives.
217. Young people who are entitled to upper secondary education and who have sign language as their first language or who, according to an expert assessment, need such an education, are entitled to receive their upper secondary education either in and through the medium of sign language in a sign language environment or through using an interpreter in a mainstream upper secondary school. By sign language environment is meant schools that offer adapted education in and through the medium of sign language for pupils with hearing impairments.

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