ERG SES D 08, Quality and Education
School governing in Norway is highly influenced by decentralization where primary schools are run by the municipalities, and secondary schools are run by the counties. However, the Norwegian government as such, sets the goals and framework for the entire educational system. The county governors’ offices (Fylkesmannen) are responsible for ensuring the link between central educational authorities and the municipalities and counties. Though both the municipality and the counties have some leeway when it comes to the practical organization of the schools, the Ministry of Education has the overall responsibility. According to an OECD study on Norway (Improving Lower Secondary Schools in Norway 2011:12), this sort of imbalanced government makes implementation challenging, as often there are no clearly defined implementation strategies that are adapted to Norway’s decentralised framework.
In this paper I want to examine two cases, two nationally instigated measures both initiated to increase the completion rate of upper secondary school in Norway. These separate cases are especially interesting due to the fact that they are initiated by to different sectors, the sector of school and education, and the sector of children and families. Both of the initiatives have the same goals increasing school completion. However, CASE1 does this through closer monitoring of pupils who are in danger of falling out of the educational system, while CASE2 aspires to do the same through furthering basic skills by means of intensive training from the 10th grade up. Yet, the two initiatives practise different approaches towards reaching this goal. Both of the initiatives are national efforts, although CASE1 is currently only implemented in a limited number of municipalities. Still, CASE1 will provide an opportunity to see how another Ministry and another sector than the usual educational sector initiates and implements a school related initiative. One will enter through the traditional implementation process within the educational sector (CASE2), and the other (CASE1) will come from the outside-and-in, not having to go through the two school owners before ending up at school level. CASE1 will also come to involve other local actors, than merely the counties and municipalities, in terms of Social Welfare Offices (municipal) or Children’s Services (state) depending on how the initiative will be located, making it an inter-sectorial initiative. This will provide an opportunity to see if the OECD was in fact right in making the assumption that implementing at school level in Norway is influenced by an imbalanced government structure.
A multilevel perspective is often used to describe how policies are developed at the point of intersection between the administrative levels of governance. Multilevel governance as such, is a concept useful to show the contrast to a more traditional structure and approach to governance (Helgøy &Aars 2008: 14). The more actors who contribute to decisions and actions, the harder it is to define who is responsible for the outcome. The problem of many hands (POMH) shows aptly how multiple service providers can form a gap of responsibility for the various issues involving the pupils who drop out. A complex kind of governance such as the one found in the education sector, makes the accountability correspondingly complex and presents challenges in terms of who is responsible for what, such as making sure government initiatives are implemented as originally intended.
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