Indigenous Education in Scandinavia

In Scandinavia, the Nordic Saami Institute was founded in 1974 as a research, educational, and service institution for the Saami populations of Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The following year the Saami Educational Council was established to advise the Norwegian Ministry of Education on questions relating to training and education for Saami. The Saami Educational Council presently initiates the development of framework curricula and subject syllabi, develops textbooks and teaching materials, examines and approves textbooks, and advises on counseling services, education, and in-service training for teachers and boarding school staffs in the Saami areas.

In 1989, the Saami College (Saami Allaskuvla) in Kautokeino, previously a department in the regional college at Alta in northernmost Norway, became an independent college of education. Staff and students began creating an institution attuned to a "Saami environment" in language, culture, and content. Saami College offers a variety of postsecondary courses and programs including teacher training. All students and staff must be fluent in Saami as a majority of classes are conducted in that language, and no permanent appointment is made to the faculty without demonstrated language fluency.

Under Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish law, Saami children have the right to primary and secondary education in Saami. Saami education is particu larly vibrant in the kindergarten (preschool) sector. Teachers design the kindergarten program annually and collaboratively discuss it with parents. Under Norwegian law, kindergarten instructional programs cannot be made or implemented without parental consent.

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