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Saturday, May 25, 2024

‘Bureaucracy ruining the schools’

The party led by Norway’s Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen, the Socialist Left (SV), has long enjoyed support from teachers but now it’s struggling in the polls and losing teachers’ votes. Just a week before upcoming municipal elections came news that nearly all teachers think schools have become more bureaucratized, and that it’s affecting students.

A survey carried out by the teachers’ organization Utdanningsforbund showed that fully 90 percent of those questioned think they’ve been subjected to more bureaucratic tasks in recent years. Four out of 10 teachers responding to the survey said the changes in the framework of their school operations hurt teaching.

Among the new bureaucratic interruptions, they say, are more meetings, testing of students and documentation of student evaluations, and a demand for written reports to school officials at the local and state levels.

The demand for reports takes a lot of time, and Bård Jordfald, one of the researchers behind the report, told newspaper Aftenposten that many teachers also wonder what becomes of the reports and evaluations they’re required to produce.

“They report in on many things, but get little response,” Jordfald said. “There’s little information on what the results will be used for or how they can use the reports to raise the level of education in their classes.”

Politicians get a lot of the blame, but not just the left-center national government or education ministry led by Halvorsen. Much of the demands put on teachers come from local politicians.

“The paradox is that the more politicians involve themselves in the schools, the more anxiety there is for how the schools are doing,” Kjell Arne Røvik, a researcher at the University of Tromsø, told Aftenposten. “So the politicians demand more reports, and that leads to more bureaucracy. The politicians want documentation of their own and others’ contributions.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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