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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Norway

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 3.5


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   No.

SCORES

Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Norway has not explicitly affirmed multiculturalism, and the term rarely appears in political or public discourse (Hagelund 2002). Nonetheless, some policy documents do assert a commitment to principles that are sometimes associated with multiculturalism, including integration, inclusion and anti-racism (Ellingsen 2009; Hagelund 2002; Lithman 2005).
  • Moreover, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion houses a directorate on Integration and Diversity which in its mission statement notes that the government will “promote a tolerant and multicultural society and combat racism. Diversity enriches us all” (Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion 2010b). Nonetheless, the focus appears to be largely on the incorporation of immigrants and minorities into Norwegian society rather than on the preservation and promotion of minority cultural heritages.


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   Increasing.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • While the Education Act (1998, section 1-1) notes that “education and training shall provide insight into cultural diversity and show respect for the individual’s convictions,” it also affirms that “education and training shall be based on fundamental values in Christian and humanist heritage and traditions.”
  • Christianity, Religion and Religious Ethics is one of the core subjects in the compulsory curriculum (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research 2007a). Nonetheless, the Education Act (1998, section 2-3a) provides that schools “respect religious and philosophical beliefs of pupils and parents and ensure their right to an equal education.” This includes exemptions from activities that are deemed to be counter to a student’s own religious practices.
  • Further, a 2004 action plan, which was revised in 2007, targeted the education of ethnic minorities. It notes that a “multicultural perspective” must be integrated into the school curriculum and that teaching materials reflect the “multicultural reality.” There are also commitments to increase teachers’ cultural competence. The action plan makes reference to a “cultural schoolbag” and suggests that this is “an initiative aimed at exposing primary and lower secondary students to professional arts and culture of all kinds” (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research 2007b). These efforts seem to be partly intended to improve immigrants’ and minorities’ educational outcomes, but the effect has been an increase in the visibility of cultural diversity and multiculturalism in the classroom.


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Neither the Broadcasting Act (1992) nor the Media Ownership Act (1997) make any reference to ethnic representation in the media or licensing. In fact, it is an explicit policy objective to try and increase the range of programs offered in Norwegian (Mangset and Kleppe 2009).


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   Very limited.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • Although examples of dress code exemptions were not widespread prior to 2000, there is now some limited evidence. For example, in 2009, the Norwegian government announced that it would allow Muslim policewomen to wear the hijab (Al Arabiya News 2009).


5. Allows dual citizenship

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Norwegian law requires that those who acquire Norwegian citizenship renounce their other citizenships (Norwegian Directorate of Immigration 2010).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 1

Evidence:

  • The government provides a number of grants to immigrant organizations, including those that promote the achievement of equal opportunities and full participation in society, those that promote social inclusion, and those that work toward the protection of asylum-seekers’ rights. Organizations receiving these grants tend to be umbrella agencies rather than specifically ethnic organizations, although in 2007, Afrikan Youth in Norway was one of the grant recipients (Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion 2010a). Grants are also provided to local immigrant organizations that undertake work related to diversity, dialogue and cooperation. The objective is “to strengthen the organisation of immigrants at the local level, to help enable immigrants to advance their common interests in relation to local authorities, to promote tolerance between different groups in the community and to combat racism and discrimination” (Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion 2010a).
  • In 2008, the government began funding, on a trial basis, voluntary organizations that provide information and assistance to new immigrants. The government also provides grants to groups that undertake preventative work related to forced marriages (Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion 2010a).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 1

Evidence:

  • The Education Act (1998) provides students the right to an equal education. Section 2-8 goes further, stipulating “pupils attending the primary and lower secondary school who have a mother tongue other than Norwegian or Sami have the right to special education in Norwegian until they are sufficiently proficient in Norwegian to follow the normal instruction of the school. If necessary, such pupils are also entitled to mother-tongue instruction, bilingual subject teaching, or both.”
  • Foreign-language studies are a core component of the secondary compulsory curriculum. In 2007, the government adopted a policy plan called Equal Education in Practice!, which outlined a new level-based curriculum in the mother tongue of linguistic minorities (Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research 2007a).
  • Prior to 1998, it does not appear that mother-tongue instruction was widely available, although bilingual education was provided to second-language speakers until they were fluent enough in Norwegian.


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   Very limited.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • In 2007, the government introduced a test program of “moderate quotas” that would give “positive special treatment” to immigrants with qualifications equivalent to those of other applicants seeking positions in 12 separate departments (Tisdall 2007).
  • In 2003, the practice of reserving some academic positions for women was found to be unlawful, although more “moderate” gender quotas were deemed permissible (Lismoen 2003).

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