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Norway/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies

In Norway, the Sami are recognised as an indigenous people and Jews, Kvens (people of Finnish descent living in the North), Roma (Gypsies), the Romani People and Skogfins (people of Finnish descent living in the south eastern part of the country) are recognised as national minorities. The overall aim of the Norwegian government, regarding both the Sami and the national minorities, is to develop and complete a policy in accordance with the international duties of Norway and the duties found in the Norwegian laws and existing political resolutions.

The majority of the Sami people (about two-thirds, 40 000 people) live in Norway. The basis of the Norwegian government's Sami policy is found in the Constitution and the Act on the Sami People. In addition, Norway has ratified the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (no. 169). The overall aim of the Norwegian government's Sami policy is to facilitate the safeguarding of the Sami people to help them develop and maintain their own language, culture and social life. The Sami people have their own parliament – Sàmediggi – which is responsible for Sami issues, and is an independent institution elected by the Sami. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) has a special department – Sami Radio – that produces and broadcasts programmes in Sami on radio and television. Some of the municipalities in the northern part of the country are defined as an administrative area for the Sami language.

From an educational context, it is maintained that the culture and traditions of the Sami community are a part of the common Norwegian and Nordic culture, and are included in both the national curriculum and the special Sami curriculum. In the areas defined as Sami districts, and according to specific criteria elsewhere in Norway, education is provided in accordance with the special Sami curriculum. For Sami pupils, this education is intended to build a sense of security in relation to the pupils' own culture and to develop Sami language and identity, as well as equipping Sami pupils to take an active role in the community and enabling them to acquire an education at all levels. State support is provided for the development of textbooks written in the Sami language.

To safeguard the rights of cultural minorities, Norway has ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities with the Council of Europe. In the last white paper on cultural minorities (2000), the government clarified that it will work for a society that facilitates cultural minorities to express, maintain and develop their identity, both in their own minority group and when interacting with the rest of society. While earlier assimilation policies have led to the encroachment of cultural minorities, not least the Romanis, the government apologised in the white paper for these injustices. The governmental initiatives for national minorities has focused on organisational development, economic support for NGOs representing national minorities and economic support for establishing and developing centres for national minorities. Newspapers and periodicals in Sami and other minority languages receive some economic support from the government through various schemes.

In addition to the national minorities, Norway today is characterized by a wide cultural diversity. According to Statistics Norway, the immigrant population made up approximately 16 percent of the population in Norway in 2015. The number includes immigrants and children born in Norway to two immigrant parents. The five largest immigrant groups in Norway are in turn Polish, Swedish, Somali, Lithuanian and Pakistani. The general inclusion policy in Norway is closely connected to the general social-democratic welfare policy.

Chapter published: 20-03-2017

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