Based on decisions made in the Norwegian Parliament in 2004, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training developed the Framework for basic skills, approved by the education ministry in January 2012. The framework has served as a tool for working groups that were appointed by the directorate to develop and revise the national subject curricula.
The basic skills – oral skills, reading, writing, digital skills and numeracy – were defined and their functions at different education levels described. From the 2006 reform of compulsory and secondary education, all subject-specific curricula describe how the five basic skills contribute to developing learner competence and qualifications and how they are integrated into the subject.
Digital skills involve being able to use digital tools, media and resources, efficiently and responsibly, to solve practical tasks, find and process information, design digital products and communicate content. Digital skills also include developing digital judgment by acquiring knowledge and good strategies for using the Internet. They are seen as a prerequisite for further learning and for active participation in working life and a society in a constant change.
The framework defines four subcategories of digital skills: search and process, produce, communicate, and digital judgement.
The school of the future
The Norwegian Parliament is currently considering a white paper presented by the government in April 2016, with proposed changes in the national curriculum. The government wants to renew all subjects in compulsory primary and secondary education, and general subjects in upper secondary education, by defining fewer and clearer competence goals.
The five basic skills, including digital skills, should be maintained and developed, according to the government’s proposal.
The white paper is based partly on two official Norwegian reports (2014 and 2015) delivered by a national commission with mandate from the government, presenting a strategy for the renewal of subjects and competences. The commission suggested that digital skills should be connected more closely to subject-specific competence, in addition to digital competence being integrated with other cross-curriculum competences.
Parliament’s standing committee on education, research and church affairs should deliver its recommendation by October 2016.
The five basic skills also play a central role in a recent white paper on adult education 2015–16 which aims to provide adults with opportunities to develop their skills and enter the labour market. The measures target adults with a low level of formal education, weak basic skills or non-recognised competence.
The government will initiate development of tools for mapping basic skills, as well as an online learning platform for literacy, numeracy and digital skills. The Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning (Vox) has been assigned to develop both solutions.