Rural Municipalities and Change in Local School Structure: Comparing Room of manoeuvre among Rural Municipalities in Latvia and Norway
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Rural depopulation, decreasing numbers of children and general centralization combined with high expectations to education, are factors that challenge rural communities and school structures in Latvia and Norway. The ambition of this article is to explore and compare the role of the municipality and other levels of governance in making decisions on school structure in rural municipalities. The research method is a multiple case study approach, supported by survey data. Through the lenses of multi-level governance theory, we have investigated how national frames like regulations and educational expectations are affecting local decision-making. Local politicians navigate between national frames and local expectations in their decisions on school reorganization and closure. We find that local stakeholders’ perceptions of rural educational objectives and possibilities are embedded in their role(s) in society. Closing of schools causes conflicting pressures and dissension between different stakeholders. We find that local negotiations might generate better solutions and less contested decisions.