Education and Common Values in a Multicultural Society – The Norwegian Case
In most Western countries, a compulsory education system plays a key role in societal integration. This article discusses how the Norwegian model of education, its values base and religious education, contribute to integration in the broad sense. Approximately 98 per cent of all children between the ages of six and sixteen participate in a common, compulsory and public course of education regulated by a curriculum approved by the parliament. Both the schools’ values base and the obligatory subject of religious education are best understood as contributions to integration in contemporary Norwegian society that is characterised by secularisation and disintegration of the Christian hegemony on the one hand, and by the emergence of cultural and religious diversity on the other. In this case, secularism is identified not with distance from religion but with equity towards religions, in education and in society, based on the assumption that everyone can unite around human rights, regardless of religious or cultural affiliation.