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
- 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).
- In 1988, a government white paper noted that immigrants should have the freedom of choice to maintain their culture and language, but that this should not come at the expense of learning Norwegian or acquiring knowledge about Norwegian society (Hagelund 2002, 407).
- There is some recognition of historic national minorities in Norway, such as the Sami, Jews, Kvens, or Roma, but no recognition of immigrant-origin ethnic minorities (Mangset and Kleppe 2013).
- Supervised by the Ministry of Education, the Norwegian Directorate for Integration and Diversity (IMDi) oversees the settlement of refugees and migrants in Norway. The Directorate is primarily focused on the integration of immigrants and refugees into the labour force and there is no commentary in their mission statement on multiculturalism, interculturalism, or the preservation and promotion of minority cultures and practices (IMDi 2020). A report on Norway’s immigration and integration strategy for the OECD states that the primary aim of the integration policy in Norway is “that everyone who is living in Norway finds work or undertakes studies, and becomes a taxpayer and contributing member of the Norwegian society” (Thorud 2019, 42).
- Nevertheless, in recent years, the government has adopted some measures to address issues related to equality and the inclusion of ethnic minorities and immigrants in Norwegian society. In 2019, the Norwegian Ministries developed The Norwegian Government’s Action Plan against Racism and Discrimination on the Grounds of Ethnicity and Religion, 2020-2023 (Minister of Culture 2019), which highlighted programs and policy developments to address racism, Islamophobia, and hate speech in Norway.
2. THE ADOPTION OF MULTICULTURALISM IN SCHOOL CURRICULUM
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- 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 noted that a “multicultural perspective” must be integrated into the school curriculum and that teaching materials reflect the “multicultural reality.” There were 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 have been 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.
- More recent initiatives have further engrained the recognition of multiculturalism and multilingualism in Norwegian education policy. The Integration Policy (Meld. St. 6, 2012-2013; Ministry of Children and Families 2012) asserts that “Diversity and multilingualism are resources in Norwegian society and must be valued in the educational process.” Consistent with the integration policy, the Ministry of Education started a new program in 2013, “Kompetanse for mangfold” (“Competence for Diversity”), which looks to strengthen schools’ abilities to promote diversity and assist minority youth (Rosnes and Rossland 2018). The program offers training to teachers in multicultural pedagogy and multilingualism, helping to foster greater knowledge around inclusion in the classroom. Although there are few immigrant and minority teachers in Norway, efforts to recruit migrants into the teaching profession have taken hold in recent years, especially at the University Colleges in Oslo and Bergen (Solano and Huddleston 2020).
- The new core curriculum for primary and secondary education that was ushered in in 2017 also recognized the importance of diversity in Norway’s education system. Indeed, “identity and cultural diversity” is recognized as one of six core values in education, and the curriculum asserts that schools are intended to “help each pupil to preserve and develop her or his identity in an inclusive and diverse environment” (Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training 2017).
3. THE INCLUSION OF ETHNIC REPRESENTATION/SENSITIVITY IN THE MANDATE OF PUBLIC MEDIA OR MEDIA LICENSING
- 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).
- The 2008 Nordic Council Report noted that the Norwegian media is culturally homogenous (Mangset and Kleppe 2013).
- NRK (2020), the national public broadcaster in Norway, notes that it “reflects the geographical diversity of Norway, provides a range of local programs and maintains a local presence.” It primarily aims to “strengthen Norwegian and Sami language, identity and culture.”
- The IMDi compiled a report in 2010 that explored the portrayal of immigrants in Norwegian media. The report found that certain groups – namely Muslims – are conveyed in a negative manner and that these stories tend to dominate media coverage in Norway (IMDi 2010).
4. EXEMPTIONS FROM DRESS CODES (EITHER BY STATUTE OR COURT CASES)
- In 2004, the Gender Equality Ombud ruled against a firm that had fired a woman for refusing to take off her hijab (Islamic Human Rights Commission 2004).
- However, in 2018, the government voted to ban the burqa and niqab in daycares, schools, and universities, suggesting that it served as a barrier to communication in educational settings (Sharman 2018). Some government officials are pushing for a larger ban on face coverings in all public spaces.
- In 2020, the municipality of Arendal also instituted a ban on the burqa and niqab for all municipal employees (Sputnik News 2020).
- In 2009, the Norwegian government announced that it would allow Muslim policewomen to wear the hijab (Al Arabiya News 2009). But in 2013, the Minister of Culture decided that the hijab would not be incorporated into police uniforms in spite of Faith and Ethics Policy Committee Recommendations to the contrary (Norway Post, 2013).
5. ALLOWS DUAL CITIZENSHIP
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- As of January 1, 2020, Norwegians will be allowed to maintain multiple citizenships (Norwegian Directorate of Immigration 2020). The new rule applies to those who are in the process of acquiring citizenship and those who have already become citizens.
- Prior to this policy shift, Norway maintained a singular citizenship policy. In the 2006 Citizenship Act, the government affirmed that “citizenship is an important symbol of belonging and loyalty to the Norwegian political community and the principles on which this is based” and that individuals should “only have political duties and rights in one state” (Ministry of Local Government and Modernization 2005).
- Views on dual citizenship in Norway shifted considerably between 2006 and 2017. Although most left-wing parties supported dual citizenship on the basis of incorporating immigrants and allowing Norwegians abroad to maintain their citizenship, Midtbøen (2019) argues that both the Conservative Party and the Progress Party changed their perspectives on dual citizenship in the mid-2010s as “allowing dual citizenship would simultaneously allow for citizenship revocation of dual citizens who engage in or support terrorist acts.”
6. THE FUNDING OF ETHNIC GROUP ORGANIZATIONS OR ACTIVITIES
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- 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 2010).
- 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 2010).
- There was a significant increase in grants in 2006 to fund projects for cultural diversity, with funding jumping from 4.2% of grants for cultural programs in 2003 to 7.5% in 2006 (Mangset and Kleppe 2013).
- In 2006, 299 organizations were awarded grants to work on programs that contributed to or promoted the interests of immigrants (Ministry of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion 2008).
- 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 2010).
- The IMDi also provides a range of grants to municipalities and volunteer organizations to promote integration, diversity, and dialogue. A complete list of available grants can be found on the IMDi website (https://www.imdi.no/tilskudd/).
7. THE FUNDING OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION OR MOTHER TONGUE INSTRUCTION
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- 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.”recommended bolstering New Zealand's capacity in a variety of cultural identities and languages (Ministry of Education 2010a, 18).
- 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.
- Bilingual education continues to be reaffirmed in recent policies. The Integration Policy (Meld. St. 6, 2012-2013; Ministry of Children and Families 2012) asserts that “mastering of the mother tongue makes it easier to learn new languages” and notes that children’s exposure to diverse languages increases tolerance among youth. Students are also able to take their exams in multiple languages and course offerings for language learning continue to expand.
8. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR DISADVANTAGED IMMIGRANT GROUPS
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- 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).
- Although this program was not overly successful, it led to a new policy aimed at diversifying the public sector. As of 2020, government agencies that are hiring personnel are required to contact one person who is an immigrant or is Norwegian-born with two immigrant parents to interview for the position (Ministry of Local Government and Modernization 2017). This policy gives preference to immigrants from Europe (outside the EU / EFTA), Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.