Reviews of National Policies for Education: Lifelong Learning in Norway 2002

Norway is a test-bed for the implementation of a bold vision of lifelong learning. There is broad and strong political support within Norway for lifelong learning as a next logical step for a highly developed country with a highly educated population, confronted with challenges ranging from economic re-structuring, to an ageing workforce, the contradictions of labour shortages and increased leisure time, and an increasingly diverse society. But even in Norway the institutional arrangements and policies fall short of a systemic approach to lifelong learning. The most obvious shortcomings concern adults where there are daunting issues regarding the governance and finance of adult learning. Leadership is a vexed issue insofar as successful implementation depends on concerted action by several ministries as well as the social partners. Choice, equity and quality are in many cases conflicting objectives and difficult trade-offs have to be resolved. Norway is advanced, relative to other countries, in the development of new politics regarding the knowledge society. Indeed, it can be argued that if lifelong learning is to succeed anywhere, Norway is one of the most likely places in view of its history of reforms, co-operation among bodies, high educational standards and outcomes. Lessons from the experience with this approach can be usefully applied in other settings. This study is divided into two parts: the background report (which was prepared by the Norwegian authorities) and the OECD Examiners' report.