Norway’s Education Ministry was claiming this week that its crackdown on absenteeism at the high school level has led to a 40 percent reduction in teens not showing up for classes. Fewer are dropping out of school as well.
“The numbers show that the students are much more present at school and that fewer are dropping out during the school year,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said as the numbers were released. Her education minister, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen from Solberg’s Conservative Party, also linked the sharp reduction in absenteeism to new rules called fraværsgrensen (literally “absentee limits”). They decree that any student with more than 15 percent unauthorized absence won’t be given grades in their subjects.
“All signs are that this has functioned in accordance with its intention,” Isaksen said. “First and foremost because absenteeism has declined enormously, both on a daily and hourly basis.”
Students who have opposed the new limits weren’t so sure, claiming that many have shown up for classes only because they feel threatened to do so. “We don’t have the impression that the focus is on how school days really are, and whether they’re worthwhile,” Philip Vogsted, deputy leader of the national high school students’ organization, told newspaper Aftenposten. “It only seems important that we show up.”