10 Interesting Facts about Education in Scandinavia

Scandinavia is an educational haven for both local, and international students. 

Countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are often praised for leading the way towards a more evolved learning experience. Not only is education in all Nordic countries free and publicly funded, but courses and curriculums are designed with a focus on equality, inclusion, and creativity. 

In fact, Scandinavia’s unique approach to education is one of the reasons why its residents are some of the happiest, most informed, and enlightened people in the world. 

To help you understand what makes Scandinavian education so unique, here are some of the most interesting facts about education in Scandinavia you might not be aware of. 

1 – Education is Free, for Everyone

As mentioned above, the economic model of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden ensure everyone can access education for free, regardless of their background. In every Scandinavian country, primary, secondary, and even higher education courses are all available to access with no tuition fees. It’s even possible to learn for free in Scandinavia if you’re an international student from a European country. 

While most colleges and universities across Scandinavia don’t charge tuition fees, government funding, loans, and finance options are still available. In fact, Danish students can even get income support from the government to help pay for their living expenses while in college.

2 – There are Specialist Schools for Every Community

While private schooling is less common in Scandinavia than elsewhere in the world, there are still specialist learning institutions available for different groups. Some schools are designed specifically for people who follow a particular faith or religion. Others offer an “independent” approach to learning. However, all of these schools are governed by regulatory bodies. 

Scandinavian countries are also dedicated to ensuring people with learning disabilities can access the same opportunities as anyone else. In Sweden, there’s even a dedicated agency for special needs students, known as the “National Agency for Special Needs Education”. 

3 – Cultural and Folk Schools are Common in Scandinavia

In regions of Scandinavia with rural communities, there are also specialist schools available for specific cultures. For instance, in Sweden, the Sami people have their own dedicated schools, which follow the same public school system as other Swedish institutions. 

Folk schools, known as folkehøjskoler or højskoler are common in both Denmark and Norway. These schools were inspired by the Danish innovator, Niels Frundtvig, who believed bringing sources of higher education rural people was just as crucial as educating urban students.

4 – The Secondary Educational System is Diverse

Scandinavian countries take a rather unique approach to secondary education, focusing on catering the aspirations and needs of a range of students. In Sweden , Norway, and Denmark school is mandatory until the age of 15, after which point, students can choose whether to prepare for college or a career with an “upper secondary” education. 

Some schools focus specifically on readying students for higher education, with standardized classics in topics like math, English, and science. Others provide training on vocational topics, such as engineering, or mechanics. 

5 – Play, Creativity, and Social Skills are Crucial

Scandinavian countries still use formal tests and similar strategies to evaluate student skills and proficiency in different topics. However, the learning experience, particularly for younger students, can often be a lot less formal than it is in other countries. 

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From an early age, students are encouraged to learn and explore, developing social skills, and learning how to communicate with others. They’re also encouraged to engage in critical thinking, express opinions, and take ownership of their own education.

6 – Scandinavian Schools Prioritize Equality

Part of what makes education in Scandinavia so amazing, is the commitment every country makes to minimizing discrimination, and ensuring equality. In Sweden, any kind of discrimination is strictly prohibited in the educational landscape, and Swedish children even have a dedicated convention for their rights, as of 2020.  

Similarly, in Norway and Denmark, universal acceptance is encouraged among all students and teachers alike. Students are introduced to concepts like gender equality from an early age, and equal opportunities are afforded to everyone, regardless of their background. 

7 – Learning Frequently Takes Place Outdoors

Scandinavia is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with countless fantastic sights to discover, from the Northern Lights to the fjords. It’s probably no surprise then, that Scandinavian schools frequently incorporate outdoor education into their curriculum.

Students frequently take part in nature walks, forest exploration, environmental studies, and field trips. This approach helps to promote a strong connection between students and their natural surroundings. Plus, it ensures every student can make the most of their incredible homeland.

8 – English is an Essential Topic in Scandinavia

While every Scandinavian country has its own language, they also understand the importance of English on a global scale. As such, every school in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway includes English on the curriculum. Many classes are also taught in English in higher education institutions, which is ideal for international students. 

Alongside English, Mathematics and Science are common topics in the curriculum for most post-secondary schools and primary learning institutions. 

9 – Scandinavians Commit to Lifelong Learning

Scandinavians are also highlight invested in lifelong learning. In Many employers in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden even pay for their employees to take time off so they can earn degree, or provide them with access to training on-the-job. Norwegian employees can even leave their job for up to 3 years to attend additional courses, and still have a role waiting for them when they get back. 

Adult high schools are a relatively common part of Danish culture, and tend to specialize in specific areas like design, film, and sports. What’s more, in Denmark, unemployed people are often given access to free courses to help them return to the job market.

10 – Every Country has Multiple Ministries of Education 

While Scandinavian schools do have a lot of independence when it comes to customizing curriculums and educational experiences, they’re still directed by governing bodies. In Denmark, the Ministry of Children and Education, and the Ministry of Higher Education and science are the two main groups responsible for driving educational outcomes. 

In Sweden, there are 6 authorities all committed to managing educational experiences, including the Ministry of Education and Research, the National Agency for Education, and the Swedish Schools Inspectorate., There’s also the National Agency for Special Needs and Education, the Swedish agency for higher vocational education, and the School Board for the Sami community. 

Learning about Scandinavian Education

Scandinavian schools are some of the most revolutionary educational facilities in the world. From the early Middle ages, the Scandinavian countries have invested heavily in an educational program that supports the success, and wellbeing of every student and teacher. 

The efforts of each country have certainly paid off. Today, Scandinavian countries rank among the best in the world for student achievement and skills. When it comes to shaping the minds of tomorrow, Scandinavian countries always get an A+ grade.

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