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Dual Qualification in Norway
Vocational streams
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(1) National framework of the scheme; 
(2) Major features of the scheme;
(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme;
(4) Organisational implications of the scheme;
(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect. 
Info unit 1 of 5 
Norway: Vocational streams

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(1) National framework of the scheme

The Reform 94 represents an ambitious endeavour to strengthen the integration of vocational and general education within a comprehensive, upper secondary school system and to revitalise the apprenticeship system.  The reform takes account of national changes in the labour market and the increasing appreciation of education as a strategic means of improving international competitiveness.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Lillian Larsen
Info unit 2 of 5 
Norway: Vocational streams

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(2) Major features of the scheme

The reform has three distinctive dimensions:
(#) the introduction of a statutory right for three years of education for all;
(#) restructuring vocational education;
(#) advancing curriculum chang.
    The statutory right to three years of additional education on top of ten years of compulsory schooling is legislated in a 'youth guarantee' of work or education for all. The applicants are entitled to attend one of their first three priority choices.  For the 16-19 year olds, not in education or employment, an administrative follow-up service has been established. The capacity of upper secondary schools is designed to be large enough also to ensure adults an opportunity to obtain upper secondary education. 
    With the exeption of the inclusion of commercial subjects in the in the general streams leading to matriculation examinations, alterations were small in these streams. The main model for vocational education is two years in school and two years in apprenticeship. The number of foundation courses has been sharply reduced from more than 100 to 13. In the second and third year of education respectively 106 and 210 vocational specialisations are offered. There is a discussion about reducing the number of Advanced Courses. Matriculation requirements are defined as a minimum level of achievement in specific subjects. The general subjects in the vocational streams include Norwegian, English, civics, modern history, mathematics and natural science, and constitute building blocks for matriculation. 
    With the active support of labour organisations, Reform 94 heralded a new era for apprenticeship training. The reform has as a premise a vast expansion of apprenticeship places and a qualitative upgrading of the system. The government subsidises the enterprise-training equivalent to the student cost of school-based training. Half the time spent on the two years apprenticeship is reckoned as 'training', the other half as production, which are paid for. The remuneration of apprentices will on average be half the starting salary of a skilled worker for the 'production year'. This may increase the attraction of training. Loans obtained for higher education make a heavy impact on the economy of young graduates, often receiving lower salary than young tradesmen. In recent years the labour market in Norway has changed to the benefit of the sellers of labour, which may generate younger job takers. 

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Lillian Larsen
Info unit 3 of 5 
Norway: Vocational streams

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(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme

General and vocational education is rooted in traditions with distinctive learning cultures.  The differences must be recognised in the curriculum bridge-building process.  Key concepts must be reconsidered and redefined.  The curriculum reform has been guided by a manifesto designated the 'core curriculum'.  This document outlines the basic principles respecting contents and methods in education and training at all levels except college and university studies. The ultimate aim of education is described as the development of an 'integrated human being' that accommodates qualities of a spiritual, creative, working, liberally-educated, social and environmentally aware human being. 
    'Activity competence' (“handlingskompetanse”) was launched as a key concept in the Commission Report which the Reform 94 is based on.  This concept was subdivided into subject knowledge, learning ability, social skills and method competence.  Although 'activity competence' was not adopted in the curriculum development, some elements may be interpreted in this direction: the emphasis on 'self-reliant learning', mandatory project work, the broad conception of knowledge, subjects defined by learning objectives rather than by subject matter etc. The conceptual framework of 'activity competence' may prove to be a productive point of departure for integrating general and vocational education.  The focus is neither on general subject knowledge nor on specialised vocational skills. The concept of competence is further developed in today's authoritative documents, profiling the image of the "integrated human being". 
    For every subject, specific syllabus and training support material has been prepared in accordance with several general principles: 
(#) a wide concept of knowledge stressing a diversity of competencies;
(#) coherent syllabuses, i.e. the syllabuses being applicable regardless of the training site;
(#) the modularization of content in order to accommodate special needs;
(#) internationalisation, environment and computer technology as constituent parts of all syllabuses. 

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Lillian Larsen
Info unit 4 of 5 
Norway: Vocational streams

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(4) Organisational implications of the scheme

A series of measures has been adopted in order to support curriculum change.  A Pupil's Guide has been prepared to help students participate actively in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of their courses with the aim of fostering self-reliant learning. A comprehensive in-service training programme has been implemented. Specific aspects of the implementation of Reform 94 has been evaluated. In 1999 the final evaluation reports of this programme were released, and a White Paper dealing with results and further actions was launched. 

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Lillian Larsen
Info unit 5 of 5 
Norway: Vocational streams

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(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect

The recruitment to vocational streams increased the first years after introduction of Reform 94. The gender bias, however, has not changed very much. But more women become trainees. There were difficulties in providing a sufficient number of apprenticeship places. If students do not obtain apprenticeship placements, the county educational authorities are responsible for offering an Advance Course II in school. There is good reason for concern about the quality and attractiveness of this option, as seen beneath (62% of this group passed trade certificate,1998). The problem is not solved, but improved. In 1996 approximately 6.000 applicants did not obtain apprenticeship places, in October 1999 only 770 trainees had their work place training at school, a radical improvement. 
    For some years there has been a sharp increase both in numbers of apprenticeship placements and the percent passing the tests. In 1995 the number of journeyman/trade tests was 15.448 including 7.088 tests taken up by adults who had not participated in ordinary vocational education. 85,5% passed the tests. In 1998 the number of tests were 38.000. Passing rate total was 92%: 23.263 adults (93%), 13.145 apprentices /workplace trained (92%), 1.589 trainees /trained at school (62 %). 
    In 1998 about 70% of vocational students (with rights /R94 + 4 years) had completed a 3 or 2 + 2 year course. In "Engineering and Mechanical Trades" and "Hotel and Food-Processing Trades" only 60% had completed. Near 30% were outside the system. The follow-up service covered 7,8 % of the age group (1998). In general streams close to 93% of the students completed their studies on time or according to schedule. A few vocational streams showed good progression, too. There is a decrease in applicants, and heavy drop-out rates in streams traditionally attended by students not academically oriented. In 1999 there has been a decrease from 1998, both in trainees and students applying for Advanced Course II.
    In 1996 more than 2.000 students from vocational streams opted for the Advanced Course II, General Subjects Supplement in order to fulfil the matriculation requirements. The number of students choosing these options has increased, 6042 applied for this kind of courses in 1999. 
    The impact of the Reform 94 on the learning environment and learning processes is difficult to assess.  The national case study has tried to identify various elements that influence educational practice.  Of particular interest is the national curriculum and assessment standards on the one hand, and on the other hand the professional role of the managers and teachers - and the understanding and practice of students' 'self-reliant learning'. The evaluation reports points to the “Content Reform” (curriculum change) as special problematic. Other findings corroborate this, and the White Paper admits that it is a lot more to do in this respect. 
    Timetables, subject syllabuses and subject teachers are dominant frame factors in Norwegian school organisations. The general subjects may reinforce the academic traditions. The inclusion of all young people in upper secondary education may force schools to reconsider established teaching practices in order to cope with the wide range and differentiation of learning needs.  More collaboration between vocational and general subject teachers is required.  The potential of school libraries with new access to ICT networks and to Internet information resources - in fostering students' self-reliant learning - is very promising. The strengthening of the relationships between schools and enterprises may open new and untraditional avenues for learning.  Of particular relevance and importance is the introduction of new systems for assessment as portfolios of evidence.  Such systems have received support from politicians and the public at large, although they met opposition from teacher unions. The White Paper points to different measures to be taken for improvement of the  "everyday work in the classrooms" in order to change more in line with the intentions of the reform. That also includes the assessment system. 
    Two new vocational streams or foundation courses have been decided to establish: one in "Sale and Service" and one for "Media and Communication".
    Adult education and training is under a separate law. The notion of "Life Long Learning" is heralded as a right for everybody, connected to "The Competence Reform" for adults (the implementation started in1999). The number of adult applicants and participants to upper secondary schools has decreased, but more grown-ups attend courses specially designed for adults. And more adults sit for trade tests.
    The Reform 94 has also implications for teacher training. A major reform of Vocational Teacher Education is starting from the autumn of 2000. This is a step-wise reform and will diminish the differences in training of teachers of vocational and general subjects.  The Reform 94 has had a declared political ambition to strengthening vocational education within a comprehensive education system and thereby promote parity of esteem of vocational and general education.  To what extent the reform will succeed - and blur or erase the distinction between general and vocational education still remains to be seen.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Lillian Larsen

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