07 SES 12 A, The Dimension of Religious Education in Intercultural Education; Policies, Practices and Research in Europe today
Approximately 98 per cent of all children in Norway between the ages of six and sixteen participate in a compulsory course of education regulated by a national curriculum. The school system therefore plays a key role in societal integration. The debate over religious education and the dissemination of values in schools reflects the wider political debate about how society should develop and what it should look like in the future. The subject in religion and worldviews has generated more political debate in recent decades than has any other school subject. The curriculum has been extensively revised four times during a relatively short period, and is due for a new controversial revision in 2015. In this paper, I will present an analysis of developments in in Norway, from the RE model that prevailed in the 1970s and 1980s via Knowledge of Christianity with an Orientation in Religions and Worldviews (KRL) and Religion, Worldviews and Ethics (RLE) up to the current debate. The paper examines which societal levels were given priority in the respective subjects. The concept ‘societal level’ is based on a notion that the society can be divided into three levels for analytical reasons, i.e. the national level, the individual level and the subcultural meso-level. My purpose is (1) to examine the extent to which the respective models of religious education could be viewed as instruments of and contributions towards integration on a national level, (2) whether the subject in religion and worldviews places as much emphasis on the needs of individuals for identity-forming education in religion and worldviews, or (3) to what extent the respective RE subjects seek to preserve religious and cultural group identities at the meso-level of society’s subculture (multiculturalism).
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