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New guidelines for policy makers based on years of joint Nordic academic research: How to promote equality and equity in Nordic education

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Discrimination, marginalization and segregation are surprisingly common in the Nordic schools of today. Based on several years of research at 14 universities in 8 countries, a group of academic researchers recently came together with one mutual goal – to help policy makers create a more equal and equitable educational system in the Nordic countries. The result is three clear guidelines.

More than 100 researchers representing universities in 8 countries, have spent years examining social justice in education from a range of angles. Based on a synthesis of their research, this group of researchers is now appealing to policymakers in all the Nordic countries to adjust educational policies and curricula in a more equal and equitable direction.

“Through our research we have seen that marginalization, discrimination and exclusion are surprisingly common in Nordic schools. To make a change we need to address the issues both on a political and practical level. Exclusion and marginalization of students are often based on differences related to social class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, locality, and language. Additionally, market-based and privatization reforms in the Nordic countries have detrimental consequences for educational justice”, says Professor Gunilla Holm at the University of Helsinki, leader of the Justice through Education in the Nordic Countries research center.

The following 3 guidelines will provide policymakers with ideas on how to encounter these challenges on a political and pragmatic level through policymaking and practical tools. For further information see pdf attachment.

1. CREATE EQUAL ACCESS TO SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION

Prevent and counteract market-based and privatization policy reforms that contradict fair and equal education

2. COUNTERACT DISCRIMINATION AND MARGINALIZATION

In curricula and teacher education, explicitly address discrimination and marginalization based on social class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, locality and language

3. BALANCE CONTENT COVERAGE, STUDENT INITIATIVE AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION

Balance student autonomy and active participation with cognitively demanding learning environments and use of digital technologies in the classrooms

The project was initiated by The Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) Justice through education in the Nordic Countries (JustEd). JustEd is a multidisciplinary, cross-national research network of 14 university partners in 8 countries. It is coordinated at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences. The center started its activities in August 2013 as part of the NordForsk programme “Education for tomorrow“.

Collaborating partners: Aalborg University (DEN), Oslo Metropolitan University (NOR), Sciences Po (FRA), Umeå University (SWE), University of Copenhagen (DEN), University of Gothenburg (SWE), University of Helsinki (FIN), University of Iceland (ICE), University of Melbourne (AUS), University of Oslo (NOR), University of Turin (ITA), University of Turku (FIN), Østfold University College (NOR), The Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (FAIDD) (FIN)

More information:
Gunilla Holm, Professor, University of Helsinki, Director NCoE JustEd, gunilla.holm@helsinki.fi, +358 50 3275907

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University of Helsinki
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The University of Helsinki is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research universities, renowned for its high-quality teaching, research and innovation. It is proud to be constantly ranked among the top one hundred best universities in the world. 

The university has an enrollment of over 35 000 students and it offers a wide range of Master’s programmes taught in English. Established in 1640, the University of Helsinki is the oldest university in Finland.

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