Diverse Diversity

Contradictions and Challenges in Norwegian Rural Education





Rural education, northern Norway, education system, diversity, universalistic curriculum, drop-out


The authors of this paper share a common background from the Northern Norway region, a rural county and the largest and least populated county of Norway. The region is characterised by high out-migration, lower educational levels, and higher drop-out rates from secondary education than in other regions of Norway. Limited educational provision makes it necessary for many young people in rural areas to leave home to take a secondary education. Large geographical distances make it difficult to commute on a daily basis. Historically, this area has been the most culturally diverse in Norway, as the domicile of the Sámi Indigenous people and the national minority, the Kven, and the Norwegian ethnic group. This Arctic region is characterised by the encounter with three ethnicities, and traditional industries such as fishing, farming and herding, combined with modern industry and knowledge-intensive enterprises.

Despite this multi-ethnic and geographically diverse society, the schools are still struggling with the unit-oriented curriculum, ignoring the diversity among the pupils. When the multi-ethnic society is not embedded in the education system, nor given in the adolescents’ hometown, the education system will be exogenous and will appear foreign. In this paper, we use available public statistics and a literature review, inspired by autoethnographic methodology—whereby authors use their experiences as a person and a long-time researcher in a field to describe, analyse and understand the phenomenon—to argue for a local- and contextual oriented schools to make meaningful and practical improvements to rural education.




How to Cite

Paulgaard, G., & Saus, M. (2023). Diverse Diversity: Contradictions and Challenges in Norwegian Rural Education. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 33(2), 32–49. https://doi.org/10.47381/aijre.v33i2.546